December 08, 2003 12:00 PM

After two decades in New Orleans, Roy and Kay Fausset thought they’d weathered just about everything—fire, flood, drought and Mardi Gras. Then Roy arrived home on Sept. 23 to find a gaping hole in the roof of the couple’s 1930s cottage. “It looked like an artillery shell had gone through,” says Roy. Police had another theory. Recalls Roy: “They said, ‘We figure that it’s a meteorite.’ ”

Geologists concurred: The Faussets’ home had been rocked by a space invader. “Meteorites are not especially beautiful to look at,” says geologist Rhian Jones of the stone, an estimated 40 lbs. before shattering into more than 100 pieces when it hit at 200-plus mph. “But they’re valuable because of where they come from.”

And there’s the beauty part: Sometimes money does drop out of the sky. The Faussets, both 59, were delighted to learn that remains of the rare meteorite, which did $10,000 worth of damage, are worth about $200,000. “There’s a whole subculture out there,” says Roy, who runs a gift shop with his wife. “They want to get a piece of it.” Or even a piece of debris: Professional meteor hunter Mike Farmer claims he would have paid $5,000 just for the desk—already, alas, discarded—the rock destroyed.

For now the chunks remain safely in storage. “Is it a message from God?” muses Kay, reviewing the parade of plagues that have hit their humble home thus. far. “The only thing we haven’t had is pestilence,” she says. “But the dog does have fleas.”

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