Robin Roberts Revisiting the Pass

Aug. 29, 2006 — -- Reporting on Hurricane Katrina has been an emotional journey for me from the very beginning.

The morning after the storm, my crew and I drove all night long to get to my hometown of Pass Christian, Miss.

I first reported live that morning just miles from my childhood home. The area where I grew up was decimated; there was debris all around. It was so bad that police weren't letting anyone in to Pass Christian.

Luckily, my family was fine. Our home did not fare as well.

It was difficult, but soon there were a lot of hugs and a lot of volunteers.

"Good Morning America" chronicled the efforts of volunteers to help Pass Christian and the Mississippi coast.

One morning we cleaned up Seal Avenue, one block from the Gulf.

We were there as the year marched on -- through Halloween, Christmas, and of course, the Pass' Mardi Gras parade.

This weekend the lights at the football field came back on for the first time. The Pass, it seemed, was back.

"Eight-five percent of these kids lost their homes," football coach Jerry Caffey said. "When you live in a FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] trailer, when you know what [it] is like to go through difficulty, you appreciate others."

The stadium and field, once in shambles, sparkled like a technicolor movie.

Football jerseys that had been dug out of mud were worn proudly. The band marched in white T-shirts, and the cheerleaders proudly shouted love for their team and their town.

What's Been Gained and Lost

People in town still talk about how things used to be before Katrina.

Some will never be the same like one woman we met here who literally had lost everything.

Geno Tart was working the overnight shift in a mental-health center as Katrina approached.

Her husband, Sam, and 2-year-old son Matthew remained at home.

Sam had survived Hurricane Camille so he thought they should ride out the storm and everything would be OK.

Today, the neighbors remember one thing: Geno's screams as they all returned to their homes after the storm.

She discovered both her husband and son had drowned in a wall of water that had ruined their home.

It was Matthew's second birthday.

Geno says she was deeply moved by the volunteers and strangers from around the country who embraced her and Pass Christian.

The volunteers brought more than just food and shelter and supplies, they helped rebuild the heart of the town by getting the schools and Boys and Girls Clubs back on track.

The football team didn't win the game Friday night, but the kids and all of Pass Christian seemed to have gained something else -- strength and determination.

"For those who have survived, keep your faith and everything will be just fine," Geno said.

As she has throughout my life, my mom shared with me this week some words of wisdom.

"It's been a time of re-awakening to not only what we had that's gone, but what we can rebuild and do."