DeVeaux Carter rode out Hurricane Katrina in Destin, Florida. The first word she got about her Ocean Springs home was that it survived the storm. And then she drove home, to the foot of the Ocean Springs beach, and shook her head in disbelief.
"I'm telling you, we came in here and opened the door, it was devastating," Carter remembers.
Mud covered her floors. And the south side had collapsed on top of a car.
"I tell you, it blew us away," she says.
The house was leaning so badly, experts questioned if it could be saved.
"A lot of people condemned the home," Bobby Carter says.
They told him, "there was really nothing we could do with it."
Demolishing the Washington Avenue house was considered. But then, the Carters found a way to jack it up and save it.
"Our house has been raised up. It used to be about three feet lower," Mr. Carter says.
The additional height created a secondary consideration the Carters never had to think about before. How could they hide the ugly gray cinder blocks that were suddenly holding their home in place? Together they came up with an answer. Use some of the hurricane damaged bricks laying around the neighborhood.
The first bricks came from the property owner next door, because his home no longer existed.
"We got some bricks from him," Carter says. "And then we started needing more bricks."
Other neighbors donated their bricks. So did Carter's mother-in-law. Before long, the couple had enough bricks to build a staircase to their front porch, and a decorative wall around the cinder block jacks hoisting their home into the air.
The bricks may not look the same. But to the Carters, that doesn't matter. They preserve their home, and save a piece of an Ocean Springs neighborhood that Katrina tried to blow down.
"That's why we're doing it," says Carter.
The Carters' had to get the city's okay to place bricks around their cinder block support beams. They're hoping to move back into their home at the end of the month.