Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Mississippi after Katrina

My friend Sheila recently returned from a trip to visit her in-laws at their home in Mississippi that was in the path of hurricane Katrina. She shared her observations with me and gave me permission to share them with you:

We got back last night from visiting my in-laws. This is the first time I've been down there since Katrina hit. My in-laws have rebuilt their house and are fine, but the scars of Katrina are everywhere from the FEMA blue roof tarps to the abandoned houses. I started noticing the trees once we started heading south of I-20. Every so often there were tall pines arching towards the west. There were also trees that were snapped in half, the trunks like jagged spears jutting out of the ground. Some trees just lay where they fell, ripped from the ground roots and all. The further south we drove the more common these sights became.

Monday we drove down to the coast. For miles inland, the trees are dead. They still stand, looking like a barren winter forest, but spring will never again bring new buds to these trees. The salt water from the storm surge got into the trees and killed them. In Waveland/Bay St. Louis, the destruction still lines the streets. Most of the businesses are still closed because the buildings are destroyed. The schools and many of the houses are abandoned. Further down in Biloxi, we drove along the beach (the beach road was gone at Bay St. Louis). The stately mansions that once lined the beach are gone. There are just empty slabs or FEMA trailers left. The giant casinos are gone. The tourists, which were the lifeblood, are gone. The beaches were mostly empty with large areas roped off, I'm assuming because of the debris in the Gulf. Evan had to use the bathroom, and we had to drive for quite awhile before we even found a business open where he could run inside.

It's been almost a year, and it still looks like a war zone. It's overwhelmingly depressing. I wonder if these towns and cities can ever come back.

New Orleans, with its concentrated human tragedy, gets most of the public focus. It's worth remembering that the storm ranged over hundreds of miles. The Sun Herald ("South Mississippi's Home Page") is running a continuing feature called Before and After that shows before and after photos of homes, businesses, historic sites, and coastline. There are hundreds of pictures that give a little visual impact to Sheila's words above.


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