Hurricane Katrina Forest Recovery

As we work together to tackle the historic challenge that Hurricane Katrina has presented to the forestry communities of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, we hope that this blog will be a valuable resource and tool.

Monday, December 4

Before, After, and Now: Air Force Meets Hurricane Force

Justin Hooks
The Sun Herald

The Pogue family was just getting comfortable in their St. Martin home when they made the last-minute decision to evacuate to Florida for Hurricane Katrina. Craig and Carrie-Ann Pogue had just been transferred to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi after seven years in England. They had lived in the house for only three weeks, and there were still several boxes to unpack.

The eight- to 10-foot swells that crashed into the Pogues' 2,700-square-foot home, on top of Katrina's 15-foot surge, had other ideas.

"You're just kind of amazed," Craig Pogue said about the return to his slab three days after the storm. "Not shock, but disbelief. Just... wow. Everything was gone. We just had the shirts on our back, and a pair of shoes each."

Gone as well were several family heirlooms, paintings from the family's time in Europe, and a 2,000-pound grand piano. The family remained with Craig's brother in hurricane-weary Navarre, Fla., for two weeks before returning. Daughter Madison stayed with relatives in Rhode Island for a time, along with a neighbor's dog that has since been adopted by the family.

A long winter of questions and insurance paperwork followed before Pogue said the family was able to move ahead with rebuilding. The work began in earnest in March; it's now nearly complete. With the help of his brother, Stephen, Pogue elevated the original floor plan with some minor modifications that increased the square footage to 3,000. Only some interior painting, trim work, cabinetry and flooring work remain, and the family hopes to move in by Christmas.

"Never for a second have we thought about leaving," Pogue said. "It's beautiful down here, we like it. We decided to rebuild pretty much straightaway... . There was nobody to blame, so we'll just pick up the pieces and move on."


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