"A lot of people say that you're the victim of Hurricane Katrina, but we're survivors," Emmanuel Williams said.
Four months after he and his family are uprooted by Mother Nature, Emmanuel Williams had another life changing event: his first white Christmas.
"Just to see the beautiful scenery, it's something I've never seen before," Williams said.
Thanks to church donations of presents and food, Williams' family wasn't empty handed this holiday. Santa was even able to track down two-year-old Teejaria at her new home halfway across the nation.
"It was beautiful to know that the kids were going to have the gifts they had and they're happy. My wife, she's going to be happy because she won't have to cook today, and I'm going to be happy because I see all the smiles and joy from my family," Williams said.
Williams is still looking for work, and unemployment checks are just keeping his family afloat. Despite the uncertainties, Williams says this memorable Christmas is reason to keep his head up.
"Sometimes it will be those little things that will make your day and go all the well better. That's what we're focused on. We're focused on the little things right now," Williams said.
Williams admits the area's kindness quickly turned Rockford from a temporary shelter into a permanent home, for this Christmas, and many more to come.
"There were a lot of people that didn't make it, and didn't have opportunity. And us coming out here and watching our family adapt and respond the way they have, it's beautiful," Williams said.
A family celebrating the holidays in a different place, after Hurricane Katrina changed their lives, and jump-started a new life, and new traditions, here in the Stateline.