Doug deSilvey recalls the storm that took his loved ones away

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Doug Walker – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The names on the Katrina memorial in Biloxi speak volumes.  A daughter, a former spouse, a former mother-in-law, and her husband, all gone in an instant. Doug deSilvey has lived through pain most of us will never know.

On this fifth anniversary of the killer called Katrina, he refused to give up.  Talking about his lost loved ones is a form of therapy.

"It helps because I try to learn from that and move on down the road and be a better man," deSilvey said.  "The good Lord has a plan for everything and everybody and that was part of it.  That's all I can attribute that to."

The beautiful Gulf Hills home, which sat on a tranquil body of water called Fort Bayou, was washed away when the bayou rose up in anger, driven by Katrina's winds.  What was left was a pile of rubble.   deSilvey recalls the final moments.

"The last thing I remember, Linda was just saying, 'Oh God, Oh God.' And instantly, the roof was down on top of us. And the only reason I'm still here is that I was at the back of the house and some of the rafters from the roof hadn't already made it down into the water and I was able to get some air out of the air pockets."

But why was deSilvey spared while the others in the home perished?

"I think that I'm here to do something, to deliver something, help somebody," deSilvey said.  "I many never know what that is, but I get up every day and stay positive. And something that I can take control of and change or help and make better, we're going to jump right in there and do it."

Doug deSilvey lost four loved ones that day, the day Katrina came ashore in his Gulf Hills community and washed away the house.  But the one person he remembers the most, the one memory he cherishes the most, is that of his daughter Donna.  He called her a real up and comer.

"She had a 148 IQ and she didn't let anything stand in her way," deSilvey recalled. "Mr. Bill Kilduff, who's the general manager at the Isle, Donna interviewed with him for one of the jobs so she could move back home. And he told me that was the most confident young lady, young person, that he had ever run into in his life, and said there's nothing she can't do."

But deSilvey's most powerful message is to others who lost loved ones in the storm.

"My advice to the folks would be to rely on your faith and God, and know that one day you'll see them," deSilvey said.  "Try to get past the materialistic aspects of your life and rely on the faith that there is a God."

And so deSilvey soldiers on, tidying up around the Katrina time capsule at the Biloxi Town Green, adorned with bricks from the lost home that was both his refuge, and the cause of his greatest pain.

Doug deSilvey also wanted to credit the Leroy Urie family of Gulfport for their help after the storm. He stayed with the former Gulfport mayor and his family for a few weeks after Katrina, and said they helped him cope with his loss and get back on his feet.

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