Robert Mahr and his fiancee live in Biloxi, Miss.
That is, they used to.
Robert Mahr (from left), Jamie Ray, James Ray and Rita Ray survived the hurricane in their van with their dogs.
Photo by Jim Blaylock/Morris News Service
Hurricane Katrina destroyed Mr. Mahr's home Aug. 29 only one day before he and his fiancee, Jamie Ray, fled the area with Ray's parents, James and Rita Ray.
Stuck in traffic, the family pulled into a crowded RV park in Mobile, Ala., late Aug. 29 and endured Hurricane Katrina in their van. For 12 hours, rain and wind pummeled the van and a tree fell only a few feet from the back of the vehicle.
Once the storm passed, the family had to wait more than an hour to use the one working pump at a gasoline station in Alabama before making the 500-plus mile trip to Mr. Mahr's parents' house in Winfield.
"I'm just glad to be alive," Mr. Mahr said. "The house I was renting was down the street and 100 yards from the ocean. I know it's gone."
Mr. Mahr said the family only took some clothes, a mattress, some money and their dogs. Everything else was left behind, including two pet birds, a car and a motorcycle.
Mr. Mahr's story is only one of many from hurricane victims who have fled to the area looking for relief.
Less than a week after Hurricane Katrina hit, local residents were responding.
People such as Robert "Gabby" Mahr, Robert's father, have opened their doors to hurricane victims. Members of nearby Shiloh United Methodist Church helped out Sunday with a special offering for the family. Pastor Dan White said the small congregation raised $1,800 to help the Rays.