Gene and Pat Street enjoyed nine years of life on the beach in Gulfport before Hurricane Katrina destroyed their ranch-style home at 406 East Beach Blvd. |
"We put in five 6-by-6 windows for a beautiful view of the Gulf from every bedroom," said Street. "The master bedroom had two of the windows. It was a lot of glass and now it's all over Gulfport."
Street, who is retired after 31 years with Ford Motor Co., and Pat, a retired flight attendant, have already picked out house plans and will rebuild. "That has been our intention since Aug. 29," he said. "We decided that before the storm."
The Streets lost everything to Katrina, including Pat's collection of 200 salt and pepper shakers. They found a few mementos, including a wall picture of a biplane, an anniversary gift to Street, a private pilot. "I want to hang it back up like it is, but Pat wants it refurbished," he said.
When they moved here from Kissimmee, Fla., Pat insisted they live on the Sound. She wasn't even interested in Back Bay. Now they are in a FEMA trailer on the beachfront and hoping to see some progress this year on a new home. They have cleared the lot.
"We're trying to build back like old Gulfport with columns and porches," said Street. "We do a lot of entertaining of out-of-town guests so we won't downsize."
The Streets were told that Katrina's water was over the roof of their home. He feels the wind blew it down and the water washed it away. "I think there was tornado damage because our boardwalk is gone and those to the west are not."
Street served in the Air Force at Keesler AFB in 1961-62 and then at an experimental radar site at Crystal Springs. That's where he met his bride.
"We've been happily married for 38 years. With no kids, all of our wedding pictures and other memories are lost because we had the only copies," he said.
They're still upbeat despite the loss. They did have flood insurance. "Our story is that Pat left with the dog on Saturday. I left on Sunday and the house left on Monday," he said.
They were grateful that a big Live oak tree survived. "It was so good to see those first buds come out," he said.
- GARY HOLLAND