Barney and Joanne Hill bought this fixer-upper at 410 Gulfview Ave., Long Beach, only a year and a half before Katrina shattered their hard labor.|
Newly married, they found their dream home, though it needed lots of TLC at the time. With the help of friends and family, they moved in and hoped to live happily ever after. Like so many, the effects of Katrina had almost shattered their dream.
After evacuating to Georgia, the Hills returned on the Wednesday after the storm to find a slab.
"We had to climb over and under debris for blocks," Joanne said.
"We found a few things and oddly enough, it was the most fragile pieces, like crystal dishes and vases, that survived. We had a pool table in the basement, and we haven't found it yet," Barney said with amazement in his voice.
They did find their piano in the front yard, upside down and facing the Gulf, only because it was pinned down by a huge oak tree that fell.
Left with only what was in the back seat of their car and an empty rental home they owned, the two were sure God was on their side. Several Midwest owners at Chateau de la Mar Condominiums, one of the rental properties Joanne managed before the storm, insisted they take whatever was left of their Gulf Coast retreats for themselves. Waving her arm around the living room of their rental home, Joanne said, "This is all stuff from the condos, except for a few accent pieces I got from yard sales and such."
"The house will not be as big as our dream home," Barney said, "but we've already lost everything that was important to us and home is just two minutes away from work."
A retired Harrison County school principal, Barney charters a fishing boat called Fishing Frenzy out of the Long Beach Harbor.
"I guess what we are trying to say is that we've had so many people commend us on rebuilding, and we want to encourage others to do the same," Barney said. "If we can do it, anyone can."
- PATRICIA "TSH" HANCOCK