A week ago, Rob Adams was homeless.
Tuesday night, he was about to get the surprise of his life. Residents from one end of the Mississippi Coast to the other, and across state lines into Alabama and Louisiana, have stepped up to help the Navy veteran who lost his home, a boat, in Hurricane Nate.
“Today is just a happy day,” said Bennie French, who grew up in Pass Christian with Adams and spearheaded the effort to find Adams a home. “Today is the thanks for me.”
Nate plopped Adams’ old cabin-cruiser atop a pier in Pass Christian harbor. He was busy helping another boat owner evacuate and ran out of time to move his own 28-footer.
The mayor, the harbormaster and the council were understanding about the situation.
“Everybody worked together to give us time to come up with a viable plan,” French said. “This is true Pass Christian.”
Adams, who is on a fixed income, had no resources to have the boat removed from the pier or start life over on land, where French convinced the veteran he needs to be because he is 61 years old and living on a boat can be difficult.
French put out a call for help on Facebook. The Sun Herald, Gazebo Gazette in Pass Christian and the Sea Coast Echo in Hancock County also picked up the story. An outpouring of contributions and offers of help followed.
J.E. Borries Inc. of Vancleave lifted Adams’ boat off the dock Tuesday free of charge. Borries used a barge and crane for the job, which would normally cost thousands of dollars.
Another childhood friend, commercial boat captain Donnie Ladner, towed Adams’ boat to a friend’s pier on Mallini Bayou.
Friends and strangers have donated money, food, furniture and clothes to Adams, who lives with his dog, Sadie.
French can’t wait to see Adams’ face when he walks into his small rental house Tuesday night. Adams has seen the house, but he hasn’t been inside and is unaware it’s been completely decorated with donated furniture. French’s wife, Natasha, added many items from her online business, Junk’n Diva.
Adams should be able to manage monthly expenses on his fixed income.
Adams himself has a generous heart, French said. The veteran was choked up Tuesday by all the support he has received.
“I am talking about Pass Christian,” Adams said as he watched Borries move the boat. “The mayor, Bennie French, Capt. Don, my friend Virgil (Steele), man, you know, I mean . . . ” And then he got choked up and had to turn away.