West Gulfport To Meet About Post Katrina Needs

Debra Hilgeman sat in her attic and watched Hurricane Katrina pour five feet of water in her west Gulfport home. Somehow, it didn't crumble to the ground.

"I had an invisible bubble around this house," she laughed. "It was a wild ride for several hours. I thought the house was going to be out past Ship Island somewhere by the time it got through."

A TV monitor sitting on an empty lot on 42nd Avenue illustrates just how much hurricane debris still litters west Gulfport. It has residents wondering if this section of ward two will ever come close to looking like it did before Katrina.

"It still just breaks my heart sometimes," Hilgeman said as she looked at the empty lots where friends used to live.

Across the street, one of the few survivors near the beachfront cleaned his curb. Edward Kaletsch seemed satisfied with the progress made in Gulfport's ward two the last seven months.

"More or less," he said, "because we were really in bad shape down here."

Kaletsch lives in a home surrounded by debris. The area is a mess. But he still feels the need to keep his property neat.

"It seems like everyday I can see just a little bit of a gain," Kaletsch said. "And if you just keep doing it, that's the trick."

The trick for Debra Hilgeman is to figure out if renovating her Central Street home is the right thing to do.

"I love this house. I feel like it saved my life and got me through the storm," she said. "But I don't want to be surrounded by cement blocks."

Hilgeman fears the hurricane debris fields in front of her lot could be prime spots for condo developers. And she doesn't think her invisible bubble will protect her house again.