As hundreds of thousands in Louisiana attempt to pick up the pieces after Hurricane Laura, one man's generosity, spirit and dedication to service is emblematic of the resilience of even the hardest-hit communities.

PHOTO: Owner of the Lower 9th Ward Market, Burnell Cotlon takes down an order for an elderly customer who he delivers groceries to in New Orleans, Aug. 18, 2015.
Marta Iwanek/Toronto Star via Getty Images, FILE
Owner of the Lower 9th Ward Market, Burnell Cotlon takes down an order for an elderly customer who he delivers groceries to in New Orleans, Aug. 18, 2015.

Since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, the city's Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood has become a food desert. But Burnell Cotlon has identified needs in his community to create resources to help, even amidst a global pandemic.

"I did this because I live here. This is my community, this is my backyard, this is my home," Cotlon told ABC News of why he opened the Lower Ninth Ward Market in 2014, which is the only fresh grocery store in the area and saves residents from three bus rides to the nearest store.

Cotlon's life has been rooted in putting others before himself, and the military veteran said he's committed to helping oversee his neighborhood's rebirth.

"This is the only store. This is it. There's nothing else around and that's why it's so important for me not to quit," he said Monday on "Good Morning America." "I still can see Katrina. What used to be houses is overgrown weeds and trash and debris."

PHOTO: The devastated Lower Ninth Ward is seen in front of the Industrial Canal with the city skyline in the background, Aug. 25, 2006 in New Orleans, nearly a year after Hurricane Katrina.
Mario Tama/Getty Images, FILE
The devastated Lower Ninth Ward is seen in front of the Industrial Canal with the city skyline in the background, Aug. 25, 2006 in New Orleans, nearly a year after Hurricane Katrina.

Cotlon offers locals who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 free credits to purchase groceries at his shop, which also provides laundry and haircut services.

"When you get your money, come back and pay me," he said of his business model. "This is a no brainer for me that I'll continue to fight and keep doing what I'm doing."

"I was very fortunate to find out what my purpose is -- it's simple, it's service. That's why I was able to go from serving my country to now my community," he explained. "I'm supposed to help you, you're supposed to help me and if everyone looked at life like that it would be a lot easier."

The Lower Ninth Ward, which has been desperate for help for over a decade, now faces another crisis that Cotlon is attempting to tackle.

PHOTO: Burnell Cotlon, owner of Burnell's Lower Ninth Ward Market works behind the register in New Orleans on April 14, 2020.
Claire Bangser/AFP via Getty Images
Burnell Cotlon, owner of Burnell's Lower Ninth Ward Market works behind the register in New Orleans on April 14, 2020. Burnell's, the only grocery store in what is otherwise considered a "food desert," has been helping to provide food to dozens of clients under financial duress during the Covid-19 outbreak.

"Now, because of this COVID thing, people need houses. So I started a nonprofit, it's called Building with Burnell," he said, adding that the purpose is "to start building affordable houses to help my community."

He continued, "It's extremely hard, but the COVID hit and it hurt everybody mentally and also financially."

PHOTO: Overgrown lots where homes once stood on Flood Street in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Aug. 29, 2017.
Chris Graythen/Getty Images, FILE
Overgrown lots where homes once stood on Flood Street in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Aug. 29, 2017.

Cotlon said he has spent his "entire life savings" on his market and the housing nonprofit.

"But I'm not complaining," he added. "I would do this again in a heartbeat because it feels good knowing that my hard work and my efforts can effect so many lives. I have no regrets."

PHOTO: A customer enters Burnell's Lower Ninth Ward Market in New Orleans, April 14, 2020.
Claire Bangser/AFP via Getty Images, FILE
A customer enters Burnell's Lower Ninth Ward Market in New Orleans, April 14, 2020. Burnell's, the only grocery store in what is otherwise considered a "food desert," has been helping to provide food to dozens of clients under financial duress during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Cotlon explained that the current total of personal cost in credits for people to receive groceries at Lower Ninth Ward Market has reached nearly $3,000, so he was stunned when "GMA" surprised him with a check for $5,000.

PHOTO: Burnell Cotlon receives a donation live on "Good Morning America" for his grocery store to help residents amid the COVID-19 pandemic pay for groceries.
ABC News
Burnell Cotlon receives a donation live on "Good Morning America" for his grocery store to help residents amid the COVID-19 pandemic pay for groceries.

"You have no idea how much this means to me. This is going to help out so many people," he said with a huge smile, while fighting back tears of joy. "I will continue to do anything I can to help my community."