ADRIAN, MICHIGAN -- Biloxi resident Gina Gavitt has to start her life all over again. She's one of thousands of people who were able to get away from Hurricane Katrina alive, and that journey took her from the disaster zone on the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes, and southeast Michigan.
"My son's baby album. One photo album. This is our life right now," Gavitt said while thumbing through the one box of belongings that she was able to pack in the van before the hurricane hit. "I'm not truly homeless because I know I can always come home, but I am homeless. Never thought I'd be to the point where I had nothing but the clothes on my back."
Mrs. Gavitt, her two children Alison and Cole, and the family dog fled Biloxi, Mississippi Sunday morning in the family van. When they reached Montgomery, Alabama on Tuesday, horrible news came from Mrs. Gavitt's husband Jeff, a firefighter who had to stay behind and work. "We figured out we could text message on the phone. Message I got from him was, 'House is flooded to the ceiling. Don't come back'" according to Mrs. Gavitt.
And they didn't. The Gavitts continued driving until they reached Adrian, Michigan, Mrs. Gavitt's hometown. That's about 40 miles north and west of Toledo, Ohio. They're now staying indefinitely with her parents.
Alison and Cole have already enrolled in a local school. "My room really is what I miss because I've got all my toys, my clothes and stuff I've had since I was little" says Alison.
But the Madison Township Fire Department has lifted the spirits of the Gavitts. The firefighters donated clothing and toys to the family. Wal-Mart threw in some gift cards. "I think I've cried every tear out of me at this point. Now I'm ready to kind of put that behind me. We have just got to be strong and carry on" says Mrs. Gavitt.
As for the house, Gina says she doesn't have flood insurance but does have content repacement coverage. She expects FEMA will be able to help with some of her living expenses. That's good, because she thinks her job as a military training instructor could be up in the air.
Gina plans to return to Biloxi in two weeks to see her husband, visit her house and begin putting her family's life back together.
Posted by AEB