West Gulfport Slow To Recover - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/23/05

West Gulfport Slow To Recover

Nearly three months after Katrina, life remains far from normal in many South Mississippi neighborhoods. West Gulfport is among the areas slow to recover.

The Red Cross mobile feeding van remains a fixture along Fournier Avenue. Pest control workers spray debris piles on one street, while heavy equipment hauls away more mess on another.

"Probably two weeks before I could get in here. We came by one time for just a couple minutes and the smell was so bad you couldn't stand it," said Ruth Avenue home owner, Ike Fortner.

Fortner is salvaging his two rental homes on Ruth Avenue. Camille's surge lapped at the front steps, but Katrina pushed five feet of water inside.

Still, Fortner counts himself lucky. Just a block away, slabs and debris piles are all that remain.

"I'm one of those old fellas that kind of go with the flow. I don't let a thing like that bother me," said Fortner.

It bothers Brittany Ainsworth a lot.

"We've lived here forever and now we can't," said the 16 year old girl.

She loved her West Gulfport neighborhood where she grew up. Katrina didn't care. Despite a sign to the contrary, the teenager's house won't be saved.

"When we first looked at it, it looked fine on the outside but we went in and everything was pretty much gone. Water all the way to the ceiling. And it's bad," she explained.

Ainsworth and her family have moved to Greenville since the storm. Others will remain, hoping to rebuild their now unrecognizable neighborhood. Ike Fortner will be there.

"They'll never get us down. No way!" he exclaimed.

You'll recall West Gulfport was the neighborhood where thousands of chickens from the port wound up after the storm. Most of that mess has been cleaned up, but there are certain areas where the stench is still evident.

By Steve Phillips

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