By NEMS Daily Journal
Lisa and Alan Murphree were living in Gautier, between Pascagoula and Biloxi, with no intention of leaving as Hurricane Katrina approached.
“We had planned on riding the storm out with neighbors and having a hurricane party in the apartment complex with those who were staying,” she said in an e-mail to the Journal.
But after family members in Tupelo urged them to leave, and after her husband rechecked the storm’s path, they decided to head north with their two Chihuahuas on the crowded highways.
“The normal six-hour drive to Baldwyn took us over 12 hours. By the time we got here, my home and all that I owned was already destroyed,” she said.
It took three days to find out what had happened to their property.
“The phones were not working and the news outlets were focused on New Orleans,” she said. “When I was able to reach someone and got the news my house was destroyed I was devastated.
“I wanted my pictures, I wanted my clothes, I wanted my toothbrush. All the trivial things that didn’t matter was gone. Five years later I still long for my stuff, especially the pictures of my girls when they were young.”
The Murphrees spent nights in a work shed behind her mother’s home and days at the relief shelter set up at the BancorpSouth Arena. Although they were provided the basics, Lisa Murphree said, “we had no hope. Our lives were changed forever.”
As the relief efforts wound down, the Murphrees remained at a loss.
“We were broke, essentially homeless, and didn’t know what to do for the longest time,” she said. “We waited for his job, housing but nothing was happening.”
It wasn’t until Easter Sunday, when the couple attended North Star Church in Saltillo for the first time, that they saw some hope.
“Things started to have a purpose and meaning after that,” she said.
After a return trip to the Coast, they realized they would have to relocate, at least for a while, and ended up in Booneville.
Alan Murphree found a job a Metrocast Communication, and the couple has moved into a rental house.
“One day we hope to return home,” she said, “but for now we are content right here in north Mississippi.