From New Orleans to Natchez, Saints fans celebrate

Published 12:15 am Monday, February 8, 2010

NATCHEZ — Hurricane Katrina left Steve Prestenbach with no home, no job and barely a city.

But he still had the New Orleans Saints.

And nearly five years after Prestenbach moved from New Orleans to Natchez after the deadly storm, he watched his beloved Saints win the Super Bowl.

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Prestenbach was one of a group of people watching the game on the big screen television at Fat Mama’s Tamales, one of many places in Natchez that hosted Super Bowl watch parties.

“I was born and raised in New Orleans, and I’ve been waiting all these years for this night,” Prestenbach said. “I was hoping it would happen, but I didn’t know how old I would be. I asked the good Lord that I’d live to see this happen. I’m 72 now, so he answered my prayer.”

But the Saints winning the Super Bowl was about the farthest thing from Prestenbach’s mind in the days after Hurricane Katrina left much of New Orleans in ruins. The storm wiped away his house, and he and his family moved to Natchez to start over.

But even though the storm left the city with an uncertain direction, Prestenbach, and other native New Orleanians, still had their beloved football team, which came back to the city in 2006 after playing much of the 2005 season in San Antonio, Texas.

“The Saints gave New Orleans inspiration and hope,” Prestenbach said. “There was nothing left but the Saints. They were our hope in life.”

So perhaps it’s not a coincidence that just four and a half short years after New Orleans experienced its lowest point, the Saints have brought the city to its peak.

“We pulled for them all these years and hoped that something like this would happen,” Prestenbach said. “I can’t even express it. This is the most spectacular thing that’s ever happened to New Orleans.”