A former defensive back for the New Orleans Saints, Antonio Gibson made a career out of taking down 200-pound men. But when Hurricane Katrina hit, it was Gibson who was brought to his knees.
"We had debris that was probably four, five, six feet high," said Gibson. "So naturally, if you receive that amount of water, everything is totally destroyed."
Gibson and his family fled New Orleans before the storm hit, not knowing when or if they would ever return.
"I have a sister-in-law and brother-in-law who stay here in the Brazos Valley area, so they had been encouraging us to come towards Bryan and College Station,"said Gibson.
Gibson says he initially looked at his stay in the Twin Cities as temporary while his house was being rebuilt. But it soon became apparent that the rebuilding process would be extensive, and he and his family began to settle in.
"Reality kind of hit me one day when my sister-in-law started talking to us about getting the kids registered for school," said Gibson. "And I'm thinking, 'School?' But reality was we could not go back to the New Orleans area."
The Gibson family now calls the Brazos Valley their home. Antonio has even started his own business, drawing on his past experiences as an NFL player with the Saints.
"I basically work with young athletes on speed, quickness, agility training," said Gibson. "I like to think I have a background that helps me when it comes down to the training, to the teaching, and even to the mentoring, because a lot of the training you do is mental, being able to motivate kids, being able to encourage them."
After evacuating to Monroe, Louisiana, Natasha Edwards and her family desperately tried to find some of her family. They soon got the lead they were praying for.
"It happened to be that my mom was registered at the Red Cross in Reed Arena, and that's how we found her," said Edwards.
The Edwards family was greeted with a warm welcome in the Brazos Valley, and the helping hands of many strangers.
"We found lots of friends. They didn't know us or nothing, but they were willing to help with everything we needed," said Natasha's husband, James Edwards.
To help the Edwards family get back on their feet, Habitat for Humanity put a new roof over their heads.
But that wasn't the only place the Edwards found shelter. They have become very active in their church, Shiloh Baptist.
"Before I moved to Bryan, I wouldn't go to church," said Edwards. "Once I moved here, I started going to church, I started getting involved more in church and stuff like that."
For these two families, the Brazos Valley, once a temporary refuge, is now the place they fondly call home.
"We've kind of restarted here," said Gibson. "It's been fun. Why restart again?"
"We have made ourselves home," said Edwards. "We call this home."
If you are interested in learning more about Antonio Gibson's sports training business, All-Star Performance Training, click on the link below.
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