Hurricane Katrina

SECOND STREET IN GULFPORT: 'Center of hospitality'

GULFPORT - Hurricane Katrina destroyed most of the homes on Gulfport's Second Street, but the storm didn't destroy the community spirit displayed every Sunday when neighbors there get together for lunch.

Ruth and Wade Bishop's home at 1020 Second Street has become the "center of hospitality" for a few dozen people who once had a home on the charming, winding street near downtown.

The Bishops' home was flooded, but was one of the first on the block to be repaired.

They don't moan about their problems. Instead, they talk about their week and plans for the future. For some of the residents, it's been a time of getting to know a neighbor they might have only known as a familiar face before the storm.

"We want them to not lose sight of hope and to come back to the neighborhood," Ruth Bishop said.

A majority of those homes were reduced to piles of rubble after Katrina. Eight months later, some properties still have piles of debris on them; others have been cleared in preparation for rebuilding. A handful of residents have already started to rebuild.

The neighbors first started getting together in October and have met every Sunday except Christmas. Each week a different person or couple supplies the food. The number of participants varies from week to week.

One recent Sunday, a group of about 35 feasted on boiled crawfish and all the fixings.

John Gargiulo calls the gatherings therapeutic. Katrina destroyed his family home on Second and Gulf, built in 1910. It was the home in which he grew up and the place where he and his wife, Lisa, lived with their three children.

"We're building back," he said.

Three other Gargiulo siblings and their father also lived on Second Street. All either lost their homes or had damage. All will rebuild.

Catherine "Chee-Chee" Frank Anderson attended the Sunday gathering for the first time. She lost her home at 1113 Second Street and has spent the past seven months in Natchez.

Even though she bought a new home in Bayou View, Second Street is home, she said.

"I love it," she said, referring to lunch. "I'll be back next Sunday."

The series

The Sun Herald this month continues its 30 Communities in 30 Days series, which looks at how area neighborhoods are recovering from Hurricane Katrina. We will update these stories every six months.

What Katrina did

Katrina's strong winds and storm surge decimated most of the homes on historic Second Street in Gulfport. Most of the homes that Katrina did not flatten have major structural damage.