For many, Katrina changed definition of home

Published 6:15 pm Monday, September 19, 2005

By Staff
It's been often said by those who move regularly that "home is where you keep your things."
But where is home when both your house and your things are washed away by a storm surge?
That's the question our friends and former back-door neighbors, Bud and Debi Robertson, find themselves answering right now. Hurricane Katrina swept their home in South Mobile County away, leaving only a slab of concrete and some pilings in the place they called home.
If there's any luck in losing a home, they are among the luckier ones. They evacuated with basic necessities and their most important things; they are "camping" with their sons, who live several miles away; and they didn't lose their livelihood.
Still, they mourn the loss of sentimental possessions, like furniture with which they set up housekeeping as newlyweds, and a coffee pot that brewed coffee just the way they liked it.
Like many thousands of others of Katrina's now-homeless victims, they are displaced. Last weekend, they were struggling to make a decision. Should they rebuild? Should they look for a home further inland? And if so, how far? Katrina's force pushed the waters so far inland that, in the immediate hours after the storm, rescuers were launching boats in the parking lot of the Alabama Power office in which Bud spends many of his days.
As we drove around the community, they showed us the same scenes time and again - slabs where houses once stood and houses being gutted for repair – furniture, carpet and walls piled high on the right-of-way. It was hard to imagine what would be worse - no home or a storm-ravaged home.
Far down the beach we stopped to talk with two doctors who call Coden home and live and work in Montgomery on weekdays. Their stately home, which dates to 1896, was standing. Some of the bottom floor was gone, but the strong pine timbers and most of the walls were survived.
Of course, the doctors said, they would build back.
I think his question answered theirs. For them, "home" has become the view from their lot - the sunrises and sunsets that they now miss, but are sure to enjoy again.
Michele Gerlach may be reached at 25.867.4876 or

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