A Delayed Reunion

Berylynn Gettridge

Then

Gettridges Before

Now

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Gettridges

Berylynn Gettridge and her father got out of New Orleans before the hurricane made landfall, but her husband, Jules, had stayed put. Two months went by, and Berylynn had no news of him. Then a relative’s phone call brought her word of what happened: Jules had remained at home until his couch began to float. Besieged by rising waters, he found his way to the Superdome and then evacuated, to Baton Rouge and then Chicago. By February of 2006, all three were together. Today, Berylynn stands alone on the front porch of her New Orleans home. Her husband died two years ago, about six years after her father died.

A sudden danger

Ronnie McBee

Then

Some chose to evacuate ahead of Katrina, but others decided to ride out the hurricane, as they had during countless storms before. “We had no idea how bad it was going to be,” said Ronnie McBee, who lived in Gulfport, Miss., with his wife, Evelyn. His neighbors had said that water hadn’t gotten high during Camille, a major hurricane in 1969. So when his home south of the railroad tracks filled with storm surge in August 2005, the retired Navy warrant officer remembered thinking that it would be ironic for him to drown inside his own home. Ronnie still lives in Gulfport today; his wife has died of cancer.

Now

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Some chose to evacuate ahead of Katrina, but others decided to ride out the hurricane, as they had during countless storms before. “We had no idea how bad it was going to be,” said Ronnie McBee, who lived in Gulfport, Miss., with his wife, Evelyn. His neighbors had said that water hadn’t gotten high during Camille, a major hurricane in 1969. So when his home south of the railroad tracks filled with storm surge in August 2005, the retired Navy warrant officer remembered thinking that it would be ironic for him to drown inside his own home. Ronnie still lives in Gulfport today; his wife has died of cancer.

Still standing

The Daniels Family

Then

Daniels Family Before

Now

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Daniels Family After

Much of Pass Christian, a town along the Mississippi gulf coast, sustained catastrophic damage, but some families bounced back thanks to some outside help. The Daniels family was getting nowhere through the usual government channels when Samaritan’s Purse, a religious organization that offers disaster relief, helped gut the family’s home and restore the interior. In 2007, exactly two years after the storm, eight members of the Daniels clan stood along a fence surrounding the renovated family home, a feat they repeated eight years later. From left stand Alex, Halley, Lorna, Rosita, Harold, Danielle, Garland and Harvey.

Buckling under stress

The Gay Family

Then

Gay Family Before

Now

Gay Family After

Six months after storm surge swamped Chalmette, La., Bridget and Robert Gay lived in a trailer supplied by a federal agency. With them were their daughters Samantha, Lauren, and Renee. “There’s nowhere to go when you’re upset or if they want privacy,” said Bridget, who was fighting with her husband when he left. Renee was photographed in March of 2006 sitting in her grandfather’s wheelchair between her sisters’ boyfriends. She channeled her emotions into a poem: “Hurricane Katrina is so mean, I can’t believe what I’ve seen.” Today, Bridget and her daughters live in a house near where the trailer once stood.

A painful parting

Lionel Burbridge

Then

Burbridge Before

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Burbridge After

A year after the floodwaters surged over Biloxi, Miss., Lionel Burbridge was living in a government-issued trailer. “My sister got away from me. I didn’t know where she was,” Lionel said, recalling that chaotic day in 2005. “After the water left our house, I finally found my sister, by the front door, laying on her stomach. My hands was tied. Imagine how I feel, you can’t do nothing to help nobody.” Today, Lionel’s final resting place is marked in Old Biloxi City Cemetery.

Stranded on a beach

Ray and Dorian Kutos

Then

Kutos mother before

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Kutos mother after

Stranded on a beach

Ray and Dorian Kutos

Then

Kutos before

After the storm swept through coastal Pass Christian, Miss., the father and son stayed on the beach. Ray Kutos had been living apart from his son Dorian, who was staying with his mother, but now neither home was an option. They waited for help to arrive. “The worst thing was the mud and the smell,” said Dorian, who wore mismatched shoes in the sand. He said he learned later that a nearby poultry warehouse had been destroyed, fouling the air. It was four days before someone showed up and found them. Today, they are back under one roof — including mother Rebecca — in Pass Christian.

Now

Kutos after

After the storm swept through coastal Pass Christian, Miss., the father and son stayed on the beach. Ray Kutos had been living apart from his son Dorian, who was staying with his mother, but now neither home was an option. They waited for help to arrive. “The worst thing was the mud and the smell,” said Dorian, who wore mismatched shoes in the sand. He said he learned later that a nearby poultry warehouse had been destroyed, fouling the air. It was four days before someone showed up and found them. Today, they are back under one roof — including mother Rebecca — in Pass Christian.

Coming home to ruin

Jock Piernas

Then

Piernas before

When Jock Piernas returned to Pass Christian, Miss., on the day after the hurricane blew ashore, he found his cousin laughing at just how ridiculously jumbled the landscape was. Jock no longer had a suitable roof over his head, so he and his brother hung blue tarps in the yard and camped out in the unforgiving heat. “The love I have for this place is unexplainable,” Jock recalled more than two weeks later. “If another [storm] comes, I still intend to come back.” Jock still lives in Pass Christian today.

Now

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Piernas after

When Jock Piernas returned to Pass Christian, Miss., on the day after the hurricane blew ashore, he found his cousin laughing at just how ridiculously jumbled the landscape was. Jock no longer had a suitable roof over his head, so he and his brother hung blue tarps in the yard and camped out in the unforgiving heat. “The love I have for this place is unexplainable,” Jock recalled more than two weeks later. “If another [storm] comes, I still intend to come back.” Jock still lives in Pass Christian today.

Back in business

Connie Crapeau

Then

Crapeau before

Recovery after the hurricane came in phases. First, immediate needs of shelter and food had to be met. But the next wave of struggles — negotiating with insurers, looking for jobs and deciding where to live — could often be more wearying. More than 18 months after Katrina, Connie Crapeau of Pearlington, Miss., became emotional as she talked about trying to get her life back. Today, she owns a business, a bar and grill named Turtle Landing.

Now

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Crapeau after

Recovery after the hurricane came in phases. First, immediate needs of shelter and food had to be met. But the next wave of struggles — negotiating with insurers, looking for jobs and deciding where to live — could often be more wearying. More than 18 months after Katrina, Connie Crapeau of Pearlington, Miss., became emotional as she talked about trying to get her life back. Today, she owns a business, a bar and grill named Turtle Landing.

Speaking up

Mary Burns

Then

Mary Burns Before

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Mary Burns after

Some people avoided Katrina’s destruction, but they still felt stung — by the storm, and by the people they blamed for making things worse. On March 3, 2006, Mary Burns wore a protest sign at the spot where a canal levee failed in Lakeview, pushing water into the low-lying New Orleans neighborhood. A congressional delegation was scheduled to stop by the spot, too. “Louisiana has the best politicians that money can buy,” Mary said. Today, she remains in her Metairie, La., home, undamaged on the other side of the canal that ruptured in 2005.

A heap of problems

Margaret B. Smith

Then

Smith before

Piles of damaged possessions lingered on New Orleans streets long after the storm. On Nov. 18, 2005, Margaret Smith was able to live in her home, but only the telephone was working. With no electricity, she sat outside in the sun to keep warm on chilly autumn days. She had to sleep on a mattress on the floor. And at the end of the month, she learned, she would be losing her job. Today, she’s still in New Orleans, and the storm’s debris has been swept aside. “I want to live in my home peacefully,” Margaret said.

Now

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Smith after

Piles of damaged possessions lingered on New Orleans streets long after the storm. On Nov. 18, 2005, Margaret Smith was able to live in her home, but only the telephone was working. With no electricity, she sat outside in the sun to keep warm on chilly autumn days. She had to sleep on a mattress on the floor. And at the end of the month, she learned, she would be losing her job. Today, she’s still in New Orleans, and the storm’s debris has been swept aside. “I want to live in my home peacefully,” Margaret said.