Cathy and Barry Cottrell returned from their evacuation refuge with family in Columbia to find piles and piles of boards covering what was once a neatly landscaped front lawn.
   Katrina's surge plowed through their home located just one block off the beach at 534 2nd Street in Gulfport. Debris from larger homes on the beach were deposited in their yard and as far as the eye could see. The front of the house was gone and the insides washed out with the Gulf waters.
   This eclectic home was built in the 1940s and remodeled in 1994. Cathy, a native of the Gulf Coast met her husband, Barry, while teaching in Texas. In 1994 he was transferred to the Coast in technical sales and two years later they moved into their beautiful 2nd Street home.
   "We really like 2nd Street, the ambiance and the neighbors and knowing everyone," said Cathy who was glad to move back home to be close to family. And close to family she was as her mother and stepfather lived just yards away on the beach and cousins lived just blocks down the road. "We also like the area because of the different home styles and that's why we're coming back. Construction has started."
   Currently, Barry, Cathy, their teenage daughter, Elizabeth, and Jeb, a 12-year-old German short-haired pointer, are living on her mother's beachfront property in a quaint little home donated to them after the storm.
   "Right now we are in a square box," Cathy said, adding that she is thankful. "And Jeb likes this just fine. He didn't do so well in the trailer."
   When asked what will come of the cute two-bedroom "square box," Cathy said, with a smile, "We will donate it to a church or organization that needs it. After all, it was donated to us."
   Though the Cottrells lost everything, as did many, they are upbeat and happy to be alive.
   "The thing we want to say is: Don't pity us. Yes, we lost everything, but we're coming back, and we want others to do the same," she said.
- PATRICIA "TSH" HANCOCK