Mavis Newell is a shooting grandmother. Lucky for her, the nine grandchildren don't mind her pointing video and digital cameras in their direction.
Their payback was always worth it: a chance to fish, swim and play on the Jourdan River in Hancock County. That's where she and husband Billy built a house in Bay St. Louis about 20 years ago, in the community called River View.
"I'm a videoholic," admitted Newell. "I used to jokingly say I boxed up my pictures and videos whenever it rained."
That obsessiveness of preserving the images of growing and changing grandchildren paid off. If the photos and videos had remained in their Ireland Street home, they'd be gone along with everything else not taken in the evacuation.
Hurricane Katrina left only the 12-foot pilings on which their river house stood. Their possessions and evidence of a recent renovation are gone. The lazy days of videotaping her grandchildren at play on the Jourdan are gone.
Two days before Katrina, grandson Andy Anderson II came to their house to try out the net he'd gotten for his eighth birthday.
"What I miss most is watching the children have a good time, swimming and fishing," said Newell.
"When Andy came to the property after the hurricane, I videoed him as he just walked every inch, with his hands in his pocket, saying nothing. The first thing he asked me was if we'd 'fix it back.'
The Newells are undecided about rebuilding, but if they do, Mavis Newell says it will be because of the grandchildren.
- KAT BERGERON