In 1975, Frank Pellegrino and his family moved into their small beachfront cottage at 2532 Beach Blvd. in Biloxi. Through 20 years of hard work, the Pellegrinos turned the 1,000-square-foot summer place into a beautiful two-story home with a view of the Sound. |
Frank, a lifelong Biloxi resident, had seen many hurricanes come and go through the years. Since moving into the home, the Pellegrinos had never evacuated for any storm.
"Wind was never a problem, and I had only seen water come as high as the sea wall. Never even as far as Highway 90," he said.
Something told him Katrina was a completely different situation. He packed up his wife, Maria, and two dogs and headed inland for the first time in advance of a storm.
Katrina's storm surge hit the Pellegrino home so hard it sheared the second story addition completely off. The top half of the home was discovered almost two weeks later more than a block inland.
"The only way we knew it was ours was the blue storm shutters I had just built and installed one week before the storm," Frank said.
The Pellegrinos have started rebuilding their home on the same property they have owned for more than 30 years.
"We considered moving elsewhere, but every time we looked at a house, my wife and I looked across the street and did not see the Gulf," he said. "It just wasn't the same."
The new home is being built on 10-foot pillars, which will put it 28 feet above sea level.
"If you're going to live on the water," Frank said, "you have to be above Katrina's water line."
The Pellegrinos are willing to rebuild beachfront and take every precaution they can never to lose their home again.
"It's worth it," Frank said, "just for the view I used to take for granted."
- JOHN PARTAIN