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He helped a friend get a boat to safety and lost his own home in the process

A boat sits on a pier at the Pass Christian Small Craft Harbor on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, after Hurricane Nate hit the area.

JOHN FITZHUGH/BILOXI SUN HERALD/TNS

By ANITA LEE | The Sun Herald | Published: October 11, 2017

BILOXI, Miss. (Tribune News Service) —  A Vietnam-era veteran helped a friend get his boat to safety ahead of Hurricane Nate and lost his own home in the process.

U.S. Navy veteran Rob Adams, 61, was unsure Tuesday afternoon where he and his beloved dog Sadie, a Catahoula cur mix, would spend the night. He has run out of money for a hotel room and his monthly check is a few weeks away.

He and Sadie lived aboard his cabin cruiser in the Pass Christian Harbor. The city on Friday ordered a mandatory evacuation of the harbor. Adams had a plan. He was going to move a friend’s boat, then tow out his 28-foot cabin cruiser, which wouldn’t start.

He didn’t count on the Bayou Portage bridge being stuck shut for four hours while he was getting his friend’s boat to safe harbor. Then the engine died on the motor boat he picked up to tow his boat.
He was drifting toward the Bay of St. Louis, so he jumped out and swam ashore as soon as he was close enough. By the time he returned to the harbor, darkness had fallen.

He was unable to move his boat. Nate’s surge lifted the boat and wedged it onto a concrete finger pier, starboard side up.

Adams’ lifelong friend, Bennie French, is doing what he can to help. He posted Tuesday morning on Facebook about Adams’ misfortune and was overwhelmed by the response: 161 shares before 2 p.m.

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Whether those shares translate into a solution for Adams remains to be seen. A crane company reached out and will be at the harbor Wednesday morning to see about lifting the boat off the pier. The job won’t be free, though.

Adams is loathe to ask anyone for help. He’s a shy and humble man, French said.

Adams talked to news reporters at the harbor for a few minutes. He said he served four years in the Navy, for much of that time aboard a surveillance vessel in the South China Sea.

Trained as an electrician, he went to college on the GI Bill once his service was over. He then went to work for the U.S. Department of Defense. An accident in 2010 ended his career. He bought his boat three years ago, when his disability came through, and has been living on it since then.

“I’ve been at sea all my life,” he said. At that point, he teared up and walked away. Once he composed himself, he went out to his boat to retrieve paperwork for the harbor master. He also got Sadie’s food and water bowl and the blanket she sleeps on.

He said the props and shaft on his boat are bent.

French is hoping the boat’s hull is not punctured or it can be patched up. He also hopes people will reach out with donations so that Adams can rent an apartment or place to stay until his monthly check arrives.

Adams was still feeling disoriented from his experience, plus overwhelmed by the response French’s Facebook post generated.

“I wasn’t expecting this at all,” he said. “The bottom line is, I was helping other people, not looking for help.”

©2017 The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.)
Visit The Sun Herald at www.sunherald.com
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