East Texas Couple Says Relative Refused To Evacuate To Avoid Katrina

Billie Smith and her husband, Larry, anxiously watch the news at home, hoping for some clue about the status of Billie's sister and brother-in-law in Pascagoula, Mississippi. "She says 'Oh honey we're not going to be able to get in the car and go down there because we're sick. We're just going to ride the storm out'," says Billie.
Those were the last words she received from her 76-year-old sister, Merlene Kelly, and her 83-year-old husband, Bill Both had back surgeries within the last year, and escaping the storm's rage would have been tough. "That street, Washington Street, that they live on, there was a picture of a girl sitting on the roof of a house, and it was off the ground," describes Billie.
As each day passes, phone service to the area is still down. And not knowing what has happened is the hardest part for Billie and her family to comprehend. "I've thought of everything. He's a retired naval person and he spent 20 years on a submarine and it's just...," says Billie holding back tears.  
"A lot of people have it a lot worse I assume than what we've got because most of them don't have anything. We just hope we still have Bill and Merlene," says Billie's husband, Larry holding his wife's hand. The Mississippi couple recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. While it's comforting to know they were together during the storm, Billie and Larry hope there's another celebration in the future when they're reunited. "We're just waiting and hoping that everything is going to turn out for the best," says Billie.

Billie says her niece was moving to Mississippi to help take care of the Merlene and Bill. She too has not heard from them since the storm.

We want to hear from more East Texans. If you have a loved one in the devastation that you're trying to get a hold of email us at katrina@kltv.com . Make sure you include your name and a phone number where you can be reached.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com