Even today, damage from Hurricane Katrina is still painfully obvious south of Interstate 10, but the damage did not stop there. Chris and Charmaine Cuevas, who live in the Standard Dedeaux community in the Kiln, are among those more north of the coastline who are also still working to rebuild their homes and lives.|
The Cuevases were in Columbus, Miss., working when they heard that Katrina was heading to South Mississippi. They told their three sons, ages 17, 18 and 19, to store the lawn furniture, lock the house and join them.
On the Tuesday after Katrina, the family made it home, dodging and zigzagging between fallen trees from Meridian to the Kiln.
"There were times we didn't think we would get the vehicles through," said Charmaine. "On our way into the neighborhood, we were shocked. When we came down our road, trailer homes were demolished and some missing. Honestly, I expected it to be worse."
While the front of their house was still intact, half of the roof had been sucked off and left on the ground next to the house. The back wall was pulled away from the structure just enough to ruin the house with rainwater.
The Cuevases received minimal insurance and have been slowly rebuilding their home themselves. So far, they have gutted the house, rebuilt the back wall and installed a metal roof.
"We lived in the house without a roof until the end of January," Charmaine said, "when we finally received a FEMA trailer and began working on the house."
Awaiting word of a possible grant through the Salvation Army, Charmaine said the family hopes to be back in their home by the new year. And, if the grant is turned down, then it could be close to another year. However, they said they are thankful they have a home at all.
PATRICIA "TSH" HANCOCK