West Gulfport residents proud of progress since Katrina - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

West Gulfport residents proud of progress since Katrina

Ten years later, the smell is long gone and new residents are discovering West Gulfport. (Photo source: WLOX) Ten years later, the smell is long gone and new residents are discovering West Gulfport. (Photo source: WLOX)
One unforgettable Katrina memory from the West Gulfport neighborhood was not a sight, but rather a smell. (Photo source: WLOX) One unforgettable Katrina memory from the West Gulfport neighborhood was not a sight, but rather a smell. (Photo source: WLOX)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

West Gulfport residents not only faced Hurricane Katrina destruction 10 years ago, they also found their neighborhoods littered with rotting chickens and giant rolls of paper.

That wayward cargo washed into their yards from the nearby Port of Gulfport, but what a difference a decade makes.

Bill Wilder and his wife, Tina, live next to the railroad tracks on 42nd Avenue and have a yard filled with flowers and plants.

“Grew up in this block here,” said Bill. “Been here all my life.”

His wife has the green thumb that keeps those beautiful blooms alive.

Ten years ago, they decided to ride out the storm.

“Looking out the front door and seeing all that water out front here, it's something you wouldn't believe until you saw it,” said Bill.

Cargo from the nearby port, along with debris from broken homes, washed through the neighborhood.

“It was really rough. Looking out the front door and seeing bundles of plywood floating down the street there. That was something you would never expect,” Bill recalled.

Thankfully, the Wilders’ home stayed together and received just a few inches of water. It was a different story just down the street.

“I just walked down the street taking pictures. Look there, that was a house up on the corner, which is gone,” said Ed Kaletsch as he thumbed through a collection of post-Katrina photos from the neighborhood.

Kaletsch evacuated during the storm and couldn't believe his eyes when he made his way back to the neighborhood.

“I was the first one back,” he remembered, “I walked clear past my house, climbing over trees and whatever. I didn't even recognize my own house. You can see, there was a lot of water and mud and everything around. When we left, all we had was the clothes on our back, and we lost everything. But the house stood, and I rebuilt it.”

One unforgettable Katrina memory from the West Gulfport neighborhood was not a sight, but rather a smell. Thousands of frozen chickens from the nearby Port of Gulfport washed ashore and left quite a stench.

“Oh, they're still in the ground around here I bet,” said Kaletsch, “Cause you dig a hole and you'll come up with them. I thought we was never gonna run out of them.”

Ten years later, the smell is long gone and new residents are discovering West Gulfport.

“It’s looking good,” said Bill.

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