Surprise visit from friendly faces

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Shortly after Christmas 2005, my family and I received visitors from your school. It was about 9 p.m. when we heard someone knock on the door, and we were extremely surprised by it. Normally a knock would not create the excitement that this one did, but a little background information will clarify why this one had the impact that it did.

On Aug. 29 of that year, Hurricane Katrina crossed the Mississippi coast, and my family and I lost our home and everything else we owned. We were living in two travel trailers and a 10-by-10-foot wooden shed in an area that had been cleared by the tidal surge of the storm. 

There were no other occupied structures around us for miles to the east and west, and definitely no neighbors to drop in on us. So the knock was a big event in our lives.

When I opened the door, there was a young lady standing there who introduced herself and then the several other people who were with her. It was a group of journalism students from your school who had been driving down the highway and had noticed the small Christmas tree that sat in the lot where our home had stood. 

I guess that curiosity got the best of them, and they stopped, and then came the knock. We talked for quite a while, and an article appeared in this paper detailing the visit.

With all the activity involved with trying to secure the necessities of life, and trying to create some degree of normality for my family, I never got the chance to thank these young people for taking the time to care and to ask how we were. It was almost 90 days after the storm had passed that they stopped, and they were the first to do so. 

In the months and now years after the storm, Mississippi received very little attention and assistance compared to that shown to New Orleans. So to have this group stop to talk with us made us truly feel that someone out there cared. It might have been a little thing to them and was part of a learning experience for their chosen career path, but their effort was felt and appreciated.

A couple of weeks ago, we were again visited by (journalism Instructor and Ranger Adviser) Irene Abrego and another associate who stopped by to again check on us and the progress that we had made. 

Her visit made me realize that I had been remiss in sending this message. I am sorry that it has taken this long for me to say it, but thank you from the Petro Family for caring, remembering and for helping to spread the story of Katrina’s effect on South Mississippi.

The Petros

Michael, Andie, Samantha, Victoria, Kelsey and Copper,

the floating dachshund


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