In the 1950s, Trent Lott would ride his bicycle along Pascagoula's Beach Boulevard and stop in front of his favorite house. |
The son of a pipefitter and a teacher would sit on the seawall in front of the 19th-century, Creole-style house and dream of owning it.
"It wasn't a big, fancy house but it had a lot of character," said Lott, now a U.S. senator.
He never let his dream die and even told Jimmy Estabrook, "if your mother and daddy would ever like to sell the house, I'd like a crack at it." The Estabrooks called in 1984.
Lott was the minority whip in U.S. Congress, in his 40s, father of two and husband to his college sweetheart, Tricia.
"The problem was I didn't have any money and had to figure out what to do about it," Lott said. "We got the house." West of Pascagoula Street, it was built in 1854. In the early 1900s the third floor burned and in rebuilding, the roof was dropped to the second floor. In 1954, it was raised 10 feet, which put the floor level at 21 feet.
When the Lotts bought it, they did little to the three bedroomer. They refinished the heart-of-pine floors, upgraded the kitchen, and added steel beams under the garage/den.
Katrina took it all.
In the hurricane's aftermath, some national media reported that government money would be used to rebuild his house, but Lott wants Mississippians to know that no government recovery programs will rebuild or clear away his debris.
"I had flood insurance. It's just not enough to rebuild," Lott said.
Lott is suing the insurance company to pay on the wind part of his policy. He said he hopes his suit will set a precedent for others with similar insurance woes.
"When I talk about my house it's not about my house, but about everyone else on the Coast who suffered the same thing," he said. "My house is unimportant except that it's symbolic of what so many are wrestling with."
The Lotts want to build back and have in mind a "smaller, cheaper" house that won't be built right away, even if he wins the suit.
"We don't want to compete with people for materials and laborers right now," he said. "I've made the decision to run for re-election, so I won't have money right away."
- KAT BERGERON