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Mississippi Brothers Carry On

billy and scotty barrett
CBS/The Early Show
A block and a half from the beach in Gulfport, Miss., two brothers live next door to each other.

They survived the hurricane of '47 and Camille in 1969, and decided to ride out Katrina at home.

But they quickly realized they weren't ready for this one.

The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith went to what Billy Barrett jokingly referred to as "the Barrett family compound."

Billy pointed out debris he said came from a block away.

He spent a good portion of Monday morning in his flooded backyard as Katrina unleashed her wrath, Smith says.

Billy was hanging for dear life to a bell pole for more than an hour.

"Thank God for this thing," he told Smith.

"As the waters started to recede (Tuesday)," Billy told Smith, "the Book of Common Prayer from the Episcopal Church floated by and I picked it up and I put it up in the bell, and the water got down a little bit more, and I was just getting ready to get off and I saw (an American flag) floating by.

"So, I'm gonna hang onto these for awhile."

Billy's brother, Scott, showed Smith a stove he stood on during the storm to stay out of the rising water in the house.

He says he and Billy were holding onto ceiling beams to help them stay put and, "We figured, if the house collapsed, we'd have a doorway (in range) or I could kick … windows out and go out that way."

Asked by Smith if he thought he was going to die, Scotty replied, "I wasn't gonna let that happen."

Billy says that when he looks at the destruction all around him, "You want to cry. You want to just tear up and do that, but you know life goes on, and you take the good with the bad.

"We're alive. We're happy to be alive."

Though the Barretts have lost pretty much everything, they say they're determined to rebuild and get on with their lives.