Hurricane Katrina

Steve Wilson: Safe

Name: Steve Wilson.

Age: 55. Location: Eleanor Drive, Pass Christian.

Before the storm: Wilson, who works at Stennis, built his house in 1977 and thought he would be safe there during Hurricane Katrina with his two dogs - 4-month-old Coal and 9-year-old Chessie. How did you survive the storm? "I was there watching a couple of movies until about 12:30 on Monday morning with my dogs, and at about 6:15 a.m. I got a phone call on my cell phone from my friend in Long Beach who said the storm was coming ashore in Grand Isle. I expected it to hit further west. The wind was howling, and me and the dogs were on the bed and we went to check things out, and they splashed into about six inches of water. " I knew at that moment I was leaving because it was a lot worse than I anticipated. My car was floating. I picked up the leashes, the rain coat and a hat, and I went to the back door and threw the dogs over the wall and I was hoping I could fit through the same opening I just put the dogs through. By the time I got out of the house, the water was almost 4 feet deep (inside).

"I walked north up the street until I got water around my ankles and saw a carport with a car in it and I just sat down there for awhile. When the water came back up around my knees, I moved to another carport, and it was then that I heard a voice and it was one of my neighbors that was seven houses up from where I was. I stayed there for six or seven days.

I was sort of tense that my family knew I was going to stay in the house, and it was the cleanest slab on the block. When I got up Tuesday, we were cutting down trees and making sure everybody was safe. Everybody else's family was around here, and I needed to let my family know I was safe and sound. Most of my family lives in Maryland and Virginia, and my son is in Florida.

"I found a couple of gallons of white paint and a 4-inch paint brush, and I wrote "Steve W safe 117" (117 was his house number). I didn't have enough room to write Wilson. I don't even know whose house it was. The house was blown away but the roof was down at ground level. I just stepped up on it."

How are you surviving now? "I don't think that much about it anymore. I'm glad I'm safe and I got the word out to my family. I live in Diamondhead now, but I do plan to return to Pass Christian. I'm not just trying to rebuild my home. I'm trying to rebuild my life." - MELISSA SCALLAN

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