David and Alesia Hamm said goodbye to city life in 2002 when they moved to Saucier to build their country bungalow.|
They had constructed the home at 24627 McHenry Road from the slab up, and enjoyed the privacy their five acres of land afforded them. With much sweat equity and a little help from their friends, the bungalow was almost complete in August of last year. Only a few coats of paint remained in the bedroom.
Katrina undid nearly all the couple's work, placing them almost back at square one.
"We thought we'd be fine being so far up off the Coast," Alesia said. "We thought (the house) would hold out. We got hit by a tornado near the beginning, and that caught a corner of the roof. We saw the front porch get taken off, and when the roof section came off, the ceiling came down and the house started to shake the Sheetrock loose in different rooms. It was very scary and we weren't sure we were going to make it. "
The Hamms applied for a FEMA trailer, but never received one. They remained in their damaged home after the storm, slowly rebuilding through fits of depression and lack of motivation. The roof was replaced, along with large sections of ceiling in the living room and kitchen. The kitchen was redone, and Alesia's favorite front porch was rebuilt.
"I needed that back," she said. "That's my favorite part of the house. We can make some changes now with these experiences. The outside is completely done, and we did a lot of landscaping. But I like it just the way it is. It's strictly a bungalow. The fact that we did it with our own hands makes it all good for us."
Life on McHenry Road is very different for the Hamms now. Where once they had only two neighbors, now Hamm says it wouldn't surprise her if every piece of property on the road has been bought or rented.
"It was very quiet out here (before the storm)," she said. "Very unincorporated. It's just amazing how it expanded so quickly since the storm. A lot of families are moving out here... . We're really moving ahead and I'm going to enjoy this house."
THE SUN HERALD