It has been 5 months since Hurricane Katrina slammed into my hometown of Gulfport Mississippi. Things are improving. There are FEMA trailers all over the place. In fact one of my neighbors has three in his yard and another has one.
This FEMA park in D'Iberville is for the elderly and disabled. I was talking to one of the men who lives there now. He said the house his grandfather and father built was destroyed by Katrina. He is in his 70's and would not be rebuilding. His house was about 3 miles south of mine. Which makes it 7 miles inland, close to a creek that the storm surge followed and swamped his house.
A big thanks goes out to Mark at Knockin' on the Golden Door in December wrote Congresswoman Woolsey on our behalf and e-mailed the response he received:
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2006 9:44 AM
To: Deleted the e-mail address
Subject: Message from Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey
January 25, 2006
Mr. Mark D. Firestone
Dear Mr. Firestone:
Thank you for providing me with the link to your friend's incredible
pictures of the destruction wrought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and for
sharing your thoughts about the need to allocate relief to the Gulf Coast.
I appreciate the time you have taken to contact me.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita tragically affected many people in the Gulf
Coast region. In addition to the destruction of many lives, the disasters
devastated wildlife, infrastructure, and communities. It will be crucial to
rebuild this area with immense consideration for the importance of
environmental barriers as well as the rich cultural history of this region.
Additionally, the Gulf Coast needs to be rebuilt in a responsible and
comprehensive way, centered on rebuilding structures that will last and will
contribute to the economic and social rejuvenation of the many communities
impacted by the hurricanes. Please know that I will keep your thoughts in
mind as Congress continues to allocate aid to Gulf Coast rebuilding
Mark wanted to know what my thoughts were on her response. While I'm addressing the needs that Mississippi has, it's important that Congress knows of the full destruction along the coastal states. Rebuilding is going to be a mammoth task and we in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama will need more funding. Ms. Woolsey addresses the fact that monies allocated need to be spent in a sensible manner and I agree with her. There are so many issues that are facing us in rebuilding in Mississippi and we need to make sure that we rebuild in such a way as to avoid destruction on the scale we faced during Katrina. Right now architectures from Southern Cal and Norte Dame are on the Mississippi Coast and documenting the destruction and drawing up plans to help us rebuild. Governor Haley Barbour has a Renewal Commission that focuses on rebuilding smart and he has called in planners from all across the country to formulate the best plans. These plans look to incorporate our rich historical architecture that was lost and plan for the future.
First Presbyterian Church courtyard on Hwy 90 in Gulfport. The church was flooded.
The tall building in the background is the Markham Building. It was built in 1920's and it's fate is still uncertain. It maybe torn down. This was the sight I saw when I was first able to get close to Hwy 90 in November.
Downtown Gulfport, the tall building to the left is Hancock Bank.
We on the Coast are resilient and are piecing our lives back together. Hancock Bank started a campaign right after the storm, "Together, We Rebuild" and it's one we are taking to heart. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers. It's going to be years, maybe even decades before we can finish rebuilding.