Hurricane drives couple north

Ironwood, MI Daily Globe

Thursday 22 December 2005, 6:23 pm

by Diane Montz

IRONWOOD -- Bob and Irma Rondeau fled hurricane Katrina in their Honda Accord on Aug. 27, with little more than an attache holding their important papers.

Two days later, that was all that was left of their life in Bay St. Louis, Miss.

It was nearly two months before the retired couple returned to their acre of waterfront property in Bay St. Louis. A partial concrete slab and battered 400-year-old live oak tree are all that remains of their spacious home, once filled with furnishings collected in their world travels, and surrounded by gardens they created over nearly 30 years.

"We said, 'we're going to flee.' Thank goodness we did," Irma Rondeau said. Fifty-two of their neighbors and friends died in the storm.

Katrina swept ashore in a 30-foot wall of water that destroyed Bay St. Louis and adjoining Waveland, as well as other Mississippi Gulf Coast communities. Waterfront homes like the Rondeaus' took the storm's first fury.

Bob Rondeau said an aerial survey shows new artificial reef offshore underwater, believed to have been created by debris sucked out to sea by powerful undertow currents during the storm.