It is an almost eerie feeling to walk along 8th Street just east of 42nd Avenue. A visitor could easily get the feeling Hurricane Katrina struck just last week, not sixteen months ago.
A cat that's apparently made a home in the remains of one blown apart house is the only sign of life. But just a half block away from all the destruction, optimism abounds.
"A month after Katrina, we saw a "for sale" sign here," said Char Cuccia as she showed visitors her new home. "We made a deal with the realtor, and that's my castle. And it's a better house than I had before."
Cuccia believes in West Gulfport. She bought the house on 9th Street after Katrina destroyed her home on nearby Woodward Avenue.
She's certain the neighborhood will fully recover from Katrina.
"Absolutely. I have all the faith in the world. If God let me live through this, then he's going to build this back. There's a lot of places for sale down here. But I hope people don't get discouraged by that. It's going to come back. And it's going to be better," she said.
Despite the storm destruction, which is still evident along so many streets in West Gulfport, residents we talked with are optimistic about the long term outlook. They prefer to focus on stories of rebuilding and recovery, which can also be found here.
"It thrills me every time I see somebody else rebuilding," said Tom Holderer.
He and his wife Nancy were among the first in the neighborhood to rebuild. They credit their flood insurance policy and a fair settlement from their home insurer.
"We had the money to start rebuilding. And I really feel for the people who are wrangling with insurance companies and waiting for grants. We were just blessed all around," Nancy said.
It's a longer process for those not as fortunate. Still, those who've made it, are confident others will follow.
"But it's coming back. And I'm glad. And I'm proud to be living in Gulfport," said Cuccia.
The neighborhood was also plagued by a disgusting smell for many weeks after the storm. That's because hundreds of frozen chickens from the nearby port were washed into the neighborhood.