Still a Tiger

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 10, 2005

Fourteen-year-old Matthew Anderson has had his world turned upside down.

The Bay St. Louis, Miss., teen evacuated his home before Hurricane Katrina with his parents and grandmother.

"We went to my sister's home in Lucedale, Miss., at first," Anderson said. "Then, we stayed in Selma before coming to Greenville."

According to Anderson, before the family left, they took all of the computers, clothes and family pictures.

"But, I had to leave all my video games," he said. "My brother in Missouri has other video games, and he's bringing those down for Christmas."

When the Anderson family arrived in Greenville, they stayed in the Jameson Inn.

"That was a crazy week," Anderson said. "I was either in the pool or in the lobby."

When they were able to, the family returned to Mississippi to check on their home.

"Our house was completely messed up," he said. "My bedroom is sitting off in the woods, and there is mud all inside our home."

He has since talked to all of his friends, and everyone is okay, but they all have to move.

"I've been able to stay in touch with them, but most of them are moving to North Alabama," Anderson said.

In spite of all of the recent changes in his life, the Miss. teen said that he's already making friends.

"Everybody's been really nice," he said. "I'm glad to be here."

He enrolled at Greenville High School this past Monday into the ninth grade, and he already has everything he needs.

"We had school uniforms back home, so I'm use to that," he said. "It's okay with me."

"Greenville High School is a lot bigger than my old school, Bay High School, back in Mississippi," Anderson said. "Our mascot was the tigers, so I'm still a tiger."

In rebuilding his new life, Anderson has a lot to be thankful for, but he's still dealing with big losses. Even though he has his cat, Johnny, and his rat terrier, Missy, he had to leave behind his chow, Bear.

"I'd had him for two years," he said. "When we went back to the house to check on things, he was gone."

"Having to get over what you lost is the worst thing about all of this," he said.

He and his family just moved into a rental house in town. Anderson said that having a house is the thing he's most thankful for now.

"This is home now," he said. "But, I wish I still had Bear."

When asked if there was anything missing in his new hometown, Anderson said, "I wish Greenville had a bowling alley."