From Football Player,

Not the Usual 'Hi, Mom'

GULFPORT, Miss., Sept. 3 -- Selma McNair was sitting in his home here surveying the damage Katrina brought, when a breathless neighbor knocked on his door.

"Your son is on TV," the neighbor said. "He wants to know if you're all right."

Having a superstar athlete for a son comes in handy sometimes.

The son the neighbor was referring to was Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve "Air" McNair, who went on national television last week searching for his family in Mississippi.

"Every time he called, he couldn't get us," McNair said with a chuckle. "Every time we called him, we couldn't get through."

So Selma McNair called his son to say he was safe, and to tell him he didn't need to make any more pleas on national TV.

"I said, 'Son, we're okay,' " McNair said.

Air McNair did have a reason to worry: Gulfport was one of the areas hit hardest by the hurricane. On some streets, every home was knocked off its foundation.

Selma McNair and his family didn't ride out the storm in Gulfport, though. They went about 100 miles north, to Collins. When they returned, they were relieved to find their house had little damage.

"We've been cleaning up debris for days," McNair said.

"But we were lucky. Some of our neighbors' houses are torn apart. They all had a lot more damage than we did."

McNair took his white Cadillac Escalade to the Cowboys Gasoline on State Road 49 to fill up his tank. When it comes to getting gas in southern Mississippi, no one gets a break.

"Every line you get to is miles and miles long," he said. "This is two to three miles long, and it's the shortest one."

Like everyone else, the McNairs need the basics. "We need ice and water," he said.

The benefits of having a pro athlete for a son only go so far.

-- Allison Klein

A Marriage That's Not

Running on Empty

GRENADA, Miss., Sept. 3 -- Angel Brower has seen her husband, Mark, for a total of eight hours since the hurricane hit last Monday.

So now she jumps into the minivan to follow his 8,500-gallon tanker and chat with him as he makes stops to deliver gasoline. Mark Brower picked up his latest load in Memphis, about 100 miles north of here.

Brower's rig does not hold enough gas to fill up the underground tanks at stations, which are empty or nearly empty by the time he arrives. In Grenada, just off Interstate 55, some drivers applauded as Brower pulled up. But the reception was not as warm at a Memphis station early Saturday morning.

"I saw a guy behind me, watching as I filled up the tanks," Brower said. "So I got back in and locked my door in a hurry."

Brower worries about hijackers -- rumors of hijacking have been circulating among truckers and their families -- but he doesn't worry about running out of gas, even though three of the five stations between Brower's station and the interstate had run out.

"Our supplier keeps us very well taken care of," he said.

-- David Murray

Trenise Williams and Joseph Kirsh walk down the aisle in Jackson, Miss. A week ago, just hours before Hurricane Katrina unleashed catastrophic damage on the Gulf Coast, Williams, 28, and Kirsh, 34, were set to get married in New Orleans. Shelter resident Rochelle Smith decided that circumstances were not going to cancel their special day.