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SHIP to SHORE

Community rallies to help veteran after he was left homeless by Hurricane Nate

By Stacey Cato


Thanks to an outpouring of generosity, a Pass Christian sailor has found a new home on land in the wake of Hurricane Nate.

Retired Navy veteran Rob Adams lived aboard his 28-foot boat along with his beloved dog Sadie at the old Pass Harbor. The two were briefly left homeless after Nate’s powerful storm surge tossed Adams’ ship up on a dock. Rob planned to move his houseboat to a safe harbor, but ran out of time when he experienced problems while helping others evacuate.

“He took one boat to a safe harbor successfully,” lifelong friend Bennie French explained, “after a four-hour wait to get through the bridge that was broken at the time. He then picked up another boat to come back and move his boat out of the harbor because he couldn’t get the engine started on his. When he came around the bend at Henderson Point, that boat broke down and he actually had to swim ashore and get help.”

French took to Facebook seeking help for his friend soon after he saw an image of the damaged boat captured by local media.

He worked alongside city leaders on a possible safe solution to remove the wrecked ship, one that would not bur-den the 61-year-old captain — who’s on a fixed income — or taxpayers.

Harbormaster Willie Davis and Mayor Leo “Chipper” McDermott remained supportive and understanding of Rob’s situation.

“Everybody worked together to give us time to come up with a viable plan,” French said. “Even the media stepped up to help!”

Offers of assistance started rolling in almost immediately, French said, and soon, resources to lift the boat up out of the water and a home suitable for Rob’s low monthly income were secured.

On Tuesday, J.E. Borries Inc. of Vancleave met Rob, French and city officials at the harbor to remove the boat, free of charge. The company provided a crane and barge, which were used to lift the boat up off the dock.

In addition, another childhood friend came to Rob’s rescue and towed the damaged boat on out the harbor. The entire process ultimately saved Rob thousands of dollars.

Rob was nearly speechless and left with mixed emotions as he watched it all unfold.

“I’m blown away by all the support my community has shown me,” he told The Gazebo Gazette.

Later, as darkness set in, Rob was presented with one last surprise for the day — keys to a completely furnished and decorated modest three-bedroom apartment that fits his tight monthly budget.

“My lovely wife and I worked all night polishing off Rob’s new apartment because we knew today would be hard for him,” French said. “We thought what better way to end such an exhausting, blissful day than to introduce Rob to his new life on land after successfully removing the boat.”

Flower arrangements, food, a closet full of clothes and even treats for Sadie awaited the veteran.

Rob was overwhelmed with emotions. He said the best part about his new home is it sits just yards away from where he grew up as a child in Henderson Point.

“This is my old stomping grounds,” Rob said with a smile. “Never in a million years would I ever have thought this could happen to me. I can’t thank everyone enough. I have so many great memories here and I couldn’t imagine a more perfect spot to rebuild my life.”

“It’s not just a house, it’s a home.”

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