Friday, December 30, 2005

Purging 2005, Part II

If you visit, please read several post below. All are Christmas to New Year's thoughts. I did not send out Christmas card this year. It was not a real Merry Christmas. I may send out Happy New Year's Cards. Anyway, more purging.

This is one of my favorite photos. The Kennedy-Miaza family apparently had several disasters:(1) the hurricane took their house; (2) the insurance company took their hope of rebuilding. They responded with humor. The sign urges Santa to place Farm Bureau on his naughty list.

I like this cartoon. We in the deep South always have God in our thoughts. Often I find that fundamentalist believe in a strict and unforgiving God, but live their lives like God is a liberal New Yorker. I shouldn't leave the conversation there. I personally believe that Intelligent Design-Creationism does not matter because, drum roll, if you believe God created everything, one doesn't need to limit science because "Science" simply uncovers the intricate creation God made. It seems to me that the fundamentalist simply want to truncate scientific inquiry by the conclusion instead of letting the research prove the conclusion.

This is what the beach looked like pre-Katrina. This is Horn Island which lies South of Ocean Springs.

My personal purging for 2005

If you walk along Highway 90 you will find historic markers, like the Jefferson Davis Speech Site. The Jones statute (founder of Gulfport) is in a private yard. The church destruction and the sobering "This in Remembrance of Me" was from a Missionary Baptist Church in Biloxi that we took supplies to. These things are laying about. All meant something to someone.

I am tired of the trash, the smell, the difficulties of doing simple things, the fear of insurance adjustors, the constant dealing with loss, and that empty lost feeling that things will never get back to normal.

I am purging some pictures. I may just stop writing on the 1st. I may not. I may ask Tony to please take over. I may just go AWOL. Until I decide, here are some photos.'

Detritus Upsetus

People have real problems with debris. I understand. You see, I too have debris issues. When my office blew away (and yes it was wind and the insurance company's own forensic engineer concluded it was tornadic activity), I have people's personal records in file cabinets, most of which disappeared and the ones found were partially underwater. Our office credit card was found by some sick soul who proceeded to make charges as they drove to Kansas and South Dakota. We still have debris on the office grounds.

But, my debris problems are minor. It is all perspective.

Part of Gulfport is abuzz. Seems a noted doctor's house also blew apart. Unfortunately, some very personal and pornographic photographs blew around the neighborhood, but survived well enough to identify the doctor and his friends. We heard about it at our Thursday-Mexican night dinner and then at my office and then from a neighbor.

Buildings blown apart, boats shot through the air, giant barges thrown ashore, 50 miles of beachfront torn asunder, but you never know when something you don't want others to know will surface amidst the havoc of life.

Note to readers: Always assume all photographs taken will become public.

Post Katrina Recap 2005

The Three bridges from 500 feet.

The first bridge is the four lane Highway 90. Its down for months to come. The second bridge is the old 90 bridge, which has had a section out in the middle since the new bridge became operational years ago. The third bridge is the railroad bridge. All three are down. One gets from East Biloxi to Ocean Springs now by driving North on I-110 to I 10 to Washington Avenue, about 18 miles and 1 hour. These bridges center many issues for 2006: do we want the RR tracks defining the Coast; do we need bigger bridges; local control versus state or federal control. Bye 2005.

The Best Things of Post Hurricane Katrina

*Kindness, Cooperation and Compassion ran the Coast
*We realized how many people cared about us and, also,
* We realized how many people we cared about.
*We made new friends across the county (Hello,New York )
*Faith made itself known in the hands of church people
*Perspective, gained by loss, humbled us in our survival; and,
*Perspective, after great losses, refined to center on family and friends.
*The Charatte plans, even if a Disneyland Coast, are a wonderful fantasy.
*Religious tolerance became spiritual acceptance and churches
shared space with other denominations and other religions

The Worst Things of Post Hurricane Katrina
*We lost friends and family in the storm.
*We lost friends and family by relocation, both temporary and permanent.
*Great, old homes and buildings have disappeared.
*Great trees, old stately Oaks and proud Magnolias, were taken from us.
*The water has been fouled by oil, chemicals, debris.
*The tax bases of all the counties and cities has been cut to a fraction.
*FEMA height regulations may prevent poor families from rebuilding
*Atlantis Casino wants to buy our Marine Life porpoises.
*Driving Highway 90 is now a sad, not peaceful experience.
* Missing the large flocks of pelicans and seagulls.


Monday, December 26, 2005

Captain Kirk, I am on Planet Destructo

Second Street, Gulfport.
Scotty's house, his daughter's old dolls.
Second Street is one block off the beach highway. There are few houses standing. Many are twisted and turned akimbo.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Bui house, Gulfport, Mississippi

The last line ends, "...warm my broken heart. Tim Bui"
I wish I was a better photographer and could do Mr. Bui justice. His
house is twisted around. There are broken antiques inside. The gray
thing behind the tree to the left of the house is a cargo container.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Ship story

I was at a potluck Christmas supper tonight and saw some friends who I haven't seen since pre-K. One was Captain Louis S. , who runs a charter boat service that takes tourist to Ship Island.
Louis, like all Coastians, listens reverently to weather reports. He did not think the storm would come our way. It is hard to remember now, but the forecasters were saying Mobile to Texas just a day or so before the storm hit us. On Saturday, Louis took 300 people to Ship Island. He wasn't worried, just cautious. But, the storm took a right angle Sunday. So, he and his crew took the boats around through Biloxi Bay, back through the bayous, back into the Gulfport Lake-Bayou Bernard area.
By Sunday night, he had the Ship Island boats--one of which is about 100 feet long-- up the Bayou. As the storm came in, the water rose. Like all sailors, he had storm lines out; however, they kept having to let the lines out as the water rose. Eventually, they were floating around the tree tops, hoping their lines secured to the trees would hold. All the lines broke except one 1 1/2 inch line. Louis felt it and it was so taut it felt like steel. One of the crew saw a seadoo floating, still attached to its trailer. They launched a boat and secured it. Luckily the keys were in the seadoo. They used it to take other lines out and secure them to taller trees. Louis said the wind just didn't stop, just kept coming, just kept getting stronger. They saw other boats break lines and float away. They saw boats tied to tight, just get covered with water. They saw water cover huge areas of land.
They survived... scared to death, but survived.
Just another story of fear and courageousness and perseverance. Another Coast story.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Giving and Getting

I hope you can blow this up. Mississippi finds itself in the unusual position of both needing and asking for help. We, individually and collectively, need help, but we are hard-headed about asking for help. As the ad states, Mississippians per capita give to charity more than any other state... and done so for years. We believe in charity. We believe in helping others. Most people here on the Coast don't want hand-outs, just helping hands. If you ask us about how we are, you will hear "fine", even though their house may have blown away. Perhaps it is pride. Perhaps it is embarrassment at not being self sufficient. Perhaps it is knowing that, however bad we have it, our neighbor shames us with their losses and their indominatable spirit.

Anyway, thanks Congress for the billions. We need it. And, don't worry, you will get it back in taxes and our generosity, our overwhelming support and service in the military, and our helping others over the coming years. Next time a storm or earthquake hits, I bet you will see my neighbors helping your neighbors survive.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Katrina Jetsam

Ever feel like Jetsam, something just thrown off because of bad times. That's Mississippi.

  • Here are some numbers:

    Katrina's toll in Mississippi ------------------------$125 billion

    Estimated dollar amount of damage
    caused by Hurricane Katrina ----------------------$231 billion

    Death toll on Coast, identified ----------------------around 70

    Missing--------------------------------------------65,380 ( Many just evacuated or relocated)

    Houses in South Mississippi destroyed--------------383,700

    Estimated cubic yards of debris in South Mississippi---21.8 million

    Cubic yards removed as of Dec. 5----------------------20,447

  • NOW, some things to think about:

The debris. A cubic yard is what you think: three feet wide, three feet long, three feet deep. There is 21.8 million cubic yards of debris. Math is not my forte--and I welcome a math major stepping in here--but , a square mile is 3,097,612 yards if you divide 21.8 million by that number, one gets 7 square miles of debris... a cube of 7 miles. Not possible? I don't know. 7 square miles!

The people. Mississippi has about 2,850,000 people. We are missing 65,000. That is 1/43rd of the population.

Maybe the people are behind that big cube of trash and I just can't see them.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Wednesday Flotsam

Here are a smattering of stories heard this week.

  • I met today with a client from a Pass Christian family with a long, long history with the city. I am probating an estate for her family. She is one of ten children, all of whom are between their late 40s and early 60s. Most have children. Many have adult grandchildren. This family lost 30 homes. Thirty homes.
  • We saw friends at Sam's who told this story about mutual friends in Ocean Springs. This family lived at the beach near the inner harbor.As the water rose, they headed to the 2nd floor. The wife turned around and couldn't see the husband down the stairwell, which was now filled with water. Suddenly, his head popped up. He had been struggling underwater to get his pants unstuck from a piece of furniture. When he had headed toward the stairs, the front doors blew in, sent water rushing through the house and out the back door, and nearly trapped him under a table. They went in a bathroom and then, as the water rose, into the attic. Just as they got to the attic, the house shook, tipped, and just tore apart, with the roof just flying through the air. They floated in the fast stream until the ended up at a large tree in their back yard, where they held on until the water receded. The Wife says she was never scared... she just knew that they would survive.
  • A client has been waiting three months for a trailer. In today's paper, she sees a hundred trailers just sitting in a lot run by Bechtel and doesn't know how to get anyone to call her back.