Hurricane Katrina

Lee and Chi Chi Bryant: We're staying

Name: Lee and Chi Chi's Pad, home of Lee and Chi Chi Bryant.

Ages: The Bryants have a combined age of nearly 120 years.

Location: East Beach Boulevard, Gulfport.

Before the storm: The Bryants moved to their 3,000-square-foot beachfront home just 18 months before Hurricane Katrina. They had moved from a home in Bayou View and to Bayou View from a house on 19th Street.

How did you survive the storm? The couple left the beachfront home to take shelter at Lee's business, Baber's Leasing, on Pass Road. The morning after the storm, they climbed over roofs on Hewes Avenue to get to their home, which was nothing but rubble. After a couple of months living with a daughter, Lee said, "I wanted to get home."

A FEMA trailer, set up on their beachfront site, let them do that, and for months their "Lee and Chi Chi's new pad" sign brought smiles to the faces of passers-by. Their determination - expressed in a Sun Herald story back in January - was an inspiration to all who read it: "I worked all my life to get here," Lee said then and again in late July, "and I'm staying. We're rebuilding."

How are you surviving now? The Bryants were expecting their new home - approximately 300 square feet larger than the one lost to the hurricane "with an additional game room and a three-car garage out back," Lee said - to be ready for occupancy by the end of August. Lee and Chi Chi Bryant sit with grandchildren Jacob Johnson, 4, and Brandon Roberts, 12, at their Gulfport home recently. The family is nearing completion of the rebuilding of the home destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Lee and Chi Chi Bryant sit with grandchildren Jacob Johnson, 4, and Brandon Roberts, 12, at their Gulfport home with the cross they raised in front of their home. The cross reads, 'He has risen and so shall we.' The family is nearing completion of the rebuilding of the home destroyed by Hurricane Katrina's storm surge on Aug. 29, 2005.

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