We continue our series, "Tents of Pass Christian," with The Horseshoe Cafe. The Horseshoe Cafe was founded by two Texas friends, Gary Reid and Randy May. The day after Hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi, Gary and Randy began loading a white horse trailer with all the supplies they could muster. They then headed east, and in the first chaotic days after the storm, they helped wherever they could in Hancock and Harrison Counties. Within a week or so, they settled down to running a feeding operation at the corner of Menge Avenue and Second Street in Pass Christian, and they've been there ever since.
Their makeshift kitchen has grown into a full-fledged relief operation. With goods donated mostly from churches and individuals, they have distributed food, clothing, bedding, cleaning supplies and much else to hundreds of hurricane victims. They expect no money for food or goods, and their aid is available to all comers. However, much of the clientele at what has become known as the Menge Avenue Distribution Center tends to be those hardest hit by the storm, residents from nearby neighborhoods who lost everything--including jobs--and are living several families to a household. The Horseshoe Cafe has been a favorite of emergency personnel from the beginning, and with residents just looking for a place to hang out.
There are other wonderful and larger relief centers in and around Pass Christian, but this one is somewhat unique in that it is independent, having been established and sustained by individuals. With the help of many other people and organizations, Gary and Randy intend to continue doing what they're doing as long as they're needed. More about all this tomorrow.
Pass Christian did not only lose historical structures because of Hurricane Katrina; it gained some as well. Or at least this one.
This is a military tent erected and donated by the Seabees to the hurricane-relief operation at the corner of Menge Avenue and 2nd Street in The Pass. Supposedly, this tent has been around a long time. It began service in the Korean War, according to the Seabees. I believe it. Can't you just see Elliot Gould and Donald Sutherland wandering around in scrubs?
Speaking of Pass Christian and history, Lisa wrote to point me to this sad story on the CNN Web site. The office of the Pass Christian Historical Society was in an old, stone bank building on Scenic Drive. It had been the kind of bank you'd expect to see John Dillinger walk into with a machine gun. The building itself was swept away by the storm's surge, but the vault--containing photographs and documents going back well into the 19th century--remained. It was believed until recently that the contents were safe, but when the vault eventually was opened, this proved not to be case. The contents were a soggy mess.
The stump of this live oak stands in Gulfport, near where the picture that appeared yesterday was taken. Intricately snarled around it is what appears to be a bolt of jersey cloth. There is much of this brightly colored material in the trees southwest of the Port of Gulfport. I'm guessing it was a shipment that was swept away in Hurricane Katrina.
The gay material, wrapped almost artfully in the remaining trees, seems maybe deliberate, something Christo would do. Not everything awaiting transport at the harbor had such an aesthetically ambivalent affect. The shipload of frozen chickens was quite problematic for those dealing with the disaster in the days after the storm. Seriously.
Well, we're done with "Mary Lou's Baby," but I've been so distracted of late that things haven't always worked as they should here at arloandjanis.com. Thanks, by the way, to those of you who wrote in yesterday to tell me I had not changed the date at the top of the page. So, for the record, here is the complete "Mary Lou's Baby," for anyone who wants to see the entire series in one convenient location. For the rest of us, here are three cartoons from November of 1996. And today's A&J. (11/2/2005)
Appropos our conversation yesterday, this photo was taken Sunday afternoon in Gulfport. Gone are the houses that stood along the north shoulder of U.S. Highway 90 and looked south toward Mississippi Sound. Houses on this attractive stretch tended more toward middle class than grand, although many were fine indeed. I did not possess a video camera with which to record as I drove, but we don't really need it. Imagine this picture looping over and over for 30 minutes.
Our imaginary little movie would take us from the western edge of Harrison County on the Bay of St. Louis through Pass Christian and Long Beach to western Gulfport. There, along the highway, the damaged area becomes more commercial, but the damage itself continues through Biloxi to the Biloxi River, the eastern boundary of Harrison County. And that's just Harrison County. Between the lost homes and destroyed businesses, imagine the number of lives affected.
All along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, things are "gone." As in, "What happened to Chappy's Restaurant in Long Beach?" The answer, "Oh, it's gone."
"Gone" is a crisp, appropriate word that everyone around here has used a lot lately, but it is somewhat imprecise. It conveys finality but little detail.
Talking over the weekend, my friend John "Kiwi" McKellar and I decided degrees of goneness are needed. We settled on three:
First-Degree Gone -- Nothing remains but a clean slab or lot.
Second-Degree Gone -- Rubble remains but no distinguishable structure.
Third-Degree Gone -- A discernible but irreparable structure remains. Lest you think we were just having fun at the expense of others less fortunate, John's own home is third-degree gone. And by the way, Chappy's Restaurant is first-degree gone, as is almost everything fronting Mississippi Sound for 40 miles or so.
Speaking of friends, my buddy Jerry Katz back in Alabama wrote in last Thursday to inform me that, indeed, "google" has made it into the dictionary as a verb. By the way, if you go to www.jerrykatz.cc, tell him I said, "Monday Night Football!"
I've been very busy the past couple of weeks, literally putting my own house in order. I hope next week I will be able to do a better job of reporting the changing scene here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, post Hurricane Katrina.
Also, many of you have offered to help. I think next week I might have some ideas for you. If you don't want to wait, there already are many avenues of assistance. Rather than point them out randomly, I suggest you "Google" around if you'd like to contribute immediately. (If "Google" isn't a verb in the dictionary yet, it should be.)
I'm going shopping for a dishwasher today, to replace the one ruined by Hurricane Katrina. For me, it'll be the last household appliance to be replaced. The one I trucked to the curb yesterday was less than a year old. I've never stopped considering myself lucky, but these little ironies are impossible to ignore.
Floodwater is rough on appliances. Debris-removal contractors slowly are getting them picked up now, but for a while the streets of Pass Christian ran between an endless barricade of white refrigerators, washing machines, dryers and dishwashers. Imagine shopping for appliances in hell. No, none of the ice makers work.
David, from parts unknown, yesterday said in an email:
You wrote, "Doesn't 'Katrina' sound far too precious to be the most destructive U.S. hurricane ever?" I admit, "Katrina" sort of does, but that power and the name suddenly made me think of "The Powerful Katrinka" in Fontaine Fox's Toonerville Trolley. The extra "k" helps, it seems. So do the images of what Katrinka actually did, though she was, most often, quite benign.
I agree, David, that "Katrinka" would be a more appropriate name for a hurricane than "Katrina." I also received a couple of humorous letters from women (I'm assuming) named "Katrina," who've experienced an unusual two months.
We don't yet know the extent of the damage in south Florida, but we're hoping for the best.
I have a most uncomfortable sense of déjà vu this morning. It was about this time on Monday, Aug. 29, that Hurricane Katrina was making landfall in Louisiana and Mississippi, and from a safe distance I was pondering what might be happening to my friends and neighbors in the storm.
Today, it's Hurricane Wilma, coming ashore in southwest Florida. I'm trying very hard to resist lapsing into weatherman jargon, because there's so much of that around elsewhere, but Wilma--like Katrina--is a big storm, with hurricane-force winds across almost a 180-mile front. There will be a lot of damage, discomfort and displacement. The only good news is, it's moving very fast.
Wilma--there's a good hurricane name. Doesn't "Katrina" sound far too precious to be the most destructive U.S. hurricane ever?
Well, after an unscheduled lapse on Thursday and the typical long weekend, I'm back here at arloandjanis.com, and we continue with the series, "Mary Lou's Baby." Also, there's the newspaper cartoon. (10/24/2005)
I'm well aware Mother Nature doesn't rest just because she's destroyed a few towns in Mississippi and Louisiana. The human suffering occurring now in Pakistan because of the earthquake is horrible and stands to worsen.
On top of that, the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever, Hurricane Wilma, is approaching the Gulf of Mexico and predicted to come ashore somewhere in Florida. (I'm thinking about posting a permanent link on this page to the National Hurricane Center.) This tremendous storm menaces millions, including my regular correspondent Trudy in Naples and Jim in the Florida Keys. To quote a message from Jim yesterday, "Damn." I don't know what to tell you, guys, except when they say "catastrophic," they mean "catastrophic."
I continue to talk about Pass Christian and the Mississippi coast, because it is what I am experiencing personally. I can share a firsthand perspective that I do not have elsewhere, but that doesn't mean I think my town's suffering is worse than that of others.
I still am experiencing trouble with my outgoing email server. I am receiving all my mail, however, and it is appreciated. I am leaving you today with a link to a Pass Christian Web page compiled by resident and local historian Dan Ellis. There is a wealth of local information that perhaps will answer some questions I have been unable to address.
I wish I had a picture to show you. I'm sitting in a beach chair in the back of my Ford pickup truck, piggybacking on the wireless network in the new Pass Christian City Hall, a double-wide mobile home on the site of the former scout hut and tennis courts. Well, at least now maybe you have your own mental picture.
There are no conventional land-based telephones working anywhere in this town. No cable, either, so fast and reliable internet hook-ups are few and far-between.
City hall and emergency services employ satellite phones, as well as cell phones. Bellsouth did install two calling centers soon after the storm, a bank of phones where a person may walk up and call anywhere for free. However, I don't think the phone banks take incoming calls. Apparently, that will have to suffice for quite some time. I have heard from unofficial sources that mail delivery may be months in returning. What remains of the town does, however, get newspapers delivered daily and garbage picked up regularly.
Sorry about not being here yesterday. Things are liable to be that way for a while. You may remember last week I said we'd begin the series "Mary Lou's Baby" this week, and so we shall. Don't forget the daily newspaper cartoon--brought to you every day through rain and sleet and snow and dark of night by couriers on their appointed rounds.
It's been a rather low-key week here at arloandjanis.com after all the recent excitement, but at least the Web site is back up and running in a normal fashion. I'll try to continue that next week.
As I told you yesterday, I've been away from the coast much of this week, but I will be back there by Monday. I'll try to get some pictures for you of the current scene there. We haven't had in pictures in a while. It's still a mess, but it's an evolving mess.
My own house in Pass Christian received slightly less than a foot of water during Hurricane Katrina, as I've mentioned to you before. I still consider myself very fortunate, but do you know what a foot of water does? For one thing, it ruins all your appliances.
Since thousands of households between Mobile and New Orleans took on much more than a foot of water, you can imagine how scarce washing machines and refrigerators are on the coast. (Bear with me; this all ties in.) So, I'm not in Pass Christian this week. I am inland, acquiring appliances.
Remember yesterday? When I said I would begin the series "Mary Lou's Baby?" Well, this morning I realized I do not have with me the CD upon which that series is stored. So, we'll have to pick up with "Mary Lou's Baby" next week. Are there any regular readers among you who still doubt I really do make this stuff up every morning?
I have been working on the interactive blogging thing we discussed a few weeks (months?!) ago, because I want to share the thoughtful letters I receive every day. Taking time to edit them and build them into the Web site manually is just too much extra work for me right now, but I do read the letters and appreciate them all.
National Public Radio this morning had a report from Waveland, MS, the small town west of Pass Christian. Waveland suffered almost total destruction from the storm surge of August 29. The report focused on the gradual return of municipal services that were washed away entirely.
I had intended to write a little about that sort of thing myself, today. I know from attending meetings of the Board of Aldermen in "The Pass" that the towns and cities of the Gulf Coast find themselves wrestling with a conundrum. To rebuild cities, there must be people; for there to be people, cities must be rebuilt. In other words, with no businesses and a fraction of its former population, a town has little revenue for the vital task of rebuilding infrastructure that must be in place before the revenue-producing populations can safely return.
Of course, grants and loans from the outside are essential, and they have been coming from a variety of sources. However, returning life on the Gulf Coast to normal is a task without precedent in this country, and it has just begun. No one is sure exactly how it will be done, but officials and citizens have no choice but to forge ahead, one day at a time.
Thanks to all who've written. My email is up and running in both directions, although I still have time to answer but a fraction. That hasn't changed. The mail I do answer usually is by luck of the draw, not by the importance I attach to the message or sender. I appreciate all who take the time to write, especially to those who've written to wish my neighbors and me well after Hurricane Katrina.
For a variety of reasons, I've not posted to the Web the past week or so. Technically, things have improved on the Seal Avenue Frontier in Pass Christian. I now can walk two blocks to the new City Hall--a double-wide mobile home parked on the former site of the municipal tennis courts--and piggy-back on their wireless network. The water pressure, while intermittent, has improved since last we visited. The power has been up and running for weeks, although there's still no sign of the phone company. They're saying phone service in December, maybe. Thank goodness for cell phones. Never thought I'd say that.
I had intended to leave you today with a brief be-back-tomorrow message, but I've gotten carried away. Still, it will be tomorrow before the cartoons return, and until then, I'll leave you with today's A&J. Please come back Tuesday!
You know what's weird in Pass Christian these days? To walk down to the beach after dark and look to the right. In the past, you'd see a bright stream of traffic on Highway 90, looping southwest toward the towns of Bay St. Louis and Waveland, themselves visible as an almost unbroken array of light on the horizon. Beyond the cars, inland, you'd see the lights of the houses facing the beach. You'd see streetlights. You'd see the lights of the harbor and the lights of the businesses up and down the highway. Above it all, you'd see the glow of New Orleans. Now, there's nothing. Not one streetlight, no evidence at all of the Crescent City. It's just dark.
Actually, to walk down to the beach at night would be a violation of the curfew that is in effect for Pass Christian these days. What I meant to say was, it would be weird.
Water returned to the Seal Avenue Frontier yesterday! The good water, I mean, the kind that comes out of a faucet. Well, it really is just a trickle right now, but given enough time it will fill a bucket, and a bucket of water comes in handy for any number of reasons.
Sorry for the lapse. I had some computer problems. I went inland for a couple of days to deal with them and to buy a new refrigerator, and when I come back, the street in front of my house is full of cars, and the Good Morning, America film crew is around the corner, interviewing my neighbors. I guess my work here is done.
I hope you saw some of the segments. Ironically, I didn't. The television reception in Pass Christian isn't what it used to be. Robin Roberts, one of the anchors, is a native of The Pass, and she's doing all she can to call the world's attention to her hometown, and I think that's great. Normally, I would include a few links by now to help further illuminate the situation, but I'm still operating under rather primitive conditions.
While we're on the subject, I haven't been able to download my email for several days now, but I hope to rectify that today. So, where were we? How about we ease back into the routine with three cartoons from 1999. And don't forget today's A&J.
ARRRRRGHH!!! I want to thank and acknowledge those of you who kept spirits up by reminding me that Sept. 19 was "International Talk Like a Pirate Day." I had intended to mention it Monday myself, but it slipped my mind at the last moment. I think we need "ITLaPD" more than ever!
I've tried not to make this dialog overly personal; I don't want to present this as some kind of adventure. However, for a change of pace, I thought you might like to know what it's like living here.
There has been power on my street for a week or more, although crews were able to hook up my house only yesterday. I slept upstairs in air-conditioned comfort last night after nearly a week of sweltering and swatting mosquitoes at night. There is no water, no phone, no cable TV. I post to the Web via cell phone. No one can say enough about the power crews who've worked 16-hour days for a month to preserve and restore--literally--our way of life. Already, many of these exhausted men are heading west to deal with Hurricane Rita.
I'm fairly certain I'm the last household on my side of Second Street before Bay St. Louis to the west, a distance of more than two miles. There are maybe half a dozen houses in the next two blocks west of me that are structurally sound, but they suffered severe flood damage. Beyond that, everything literally is destroyed.
The house in the photo is three doors west of mine, on the northwest corner of Seal and Second. The debris field in the yard washed down Seal from Scenic Drive, where the old beach homes were smashed by the surf.
East of here, there are households, but not for many blocks. Houses in that direction, too, were destroyed and flooded in great number. I have two neighbors across the street, Byron Ladner and Carlos Fernandez. We're something of an enclave here. I had an idealized notion of returning and doing what I could to assist my town in its recovery. The truth is, there are very few people here. So many homes are gone. I'll bet I've used the word "unbelievable more in the past month than I've used it the rest of my life put together.
I have some more pictures and perspectives from Pass Christian today, but all the rubble and ruin are taking on a sameness. I hope I've been able to enlighten you somewhat on the circumstances here. I don't claim to be an expert, but I do have firsthand knowledge, and I appreciate all of you who've written to thank me and encourage my efforts. It is I who thank you, though, for your interest in my town and its plight. I suppose part of me believes if I keep showing you these things and talking about them, it isn't really gone yet. I expect the Web site will soon return to normal, but Pass Christian, the old Pass Christian, is gone forever, I fear.
Finally, as I've been promising, here are some first-hand pictures and reports from Pass Christian, MS.
I've decided to stay with our familiar format. Just click on the image to go to the next. This saves me a lot of time putting the page together. Instead of photo after photo of mind-numbing and anonymous debris, I've chosen 12 photos, mostly from downtown Pass Christian, and included commentary with each. Tomorrow, I'll branch out and show you the really bad damage.
I apologize for not having any cartoons to show you. I definitely believe life should go on, but maintaining the Web site under existing conditions is problematic, and foregoing the cartoons for now saves me time and resources. They will be back!
This is my front door in Pass Christian, MS. The orange mark indicates that a search and recovery team has been inside and found no bodies. Not far from my door are houses--or the remnants of houses--with green marks spray-painted on the most prominent available surface. Those marks mean something else.
It is estimated that 70 per cent of this little town, literally one of the oldest in America, is destroyed. Two blocks west of my door is Fleitas Avenue, roughly where the little downtown would normally begin. From there west to St. Louis Bay, approximately five square miles, an area once thick with middle-class homes and businesses, there is not one habitable structure.
North of my door, over the railroad tracks, poorer neighborhoods have suffered similar devastation. There are blocks and blocks of houses and mobile homes destroyed by wind and water.
East of my door, Pass Christian is on slightly higher ground. Neighborhoods and business here are ruined, but this is the only place where the surviving structures are to be found. This is now the town. And Pass Christian was not the hardest hit town in Mississippi.
I have managed to stay occupied since arriving Saturday, but I am going to devote today to collecting information and photographs, which I will post as soon as possible. Thanks, again, for all your kind messages.
I don't have much to add to our hurricane discussion today. However, the Mississippi town of Pass Christian is allowing residents and property owners to return on a controlled basis, and I will be there myself in a day or so. On Monday, I should be able to share first-hand observations.
Remember, if you're interested in following events on the storm-stricken gulf coast, The Sun Herald newspaper in Harrison County, MS, is a good source, as are The Mobile Register and The Pensacola News Journal, which we relied upon for much of our information about Hurricane Ivan a year ago. For newspaper coverage of the devastation in New Orleans, there is the Web site of The Times-Picayune.
Today, I have four cartoons from 2003 and the newspaper cartoon. Lately, I haven't been diligent including a link to the United Media page, where the new Arlo and Janis cartoon resides every day, so I hope you'll take the time to go back over the past week or so and check out anything I've caused you to miss. I probably won't see you until Monday. Have a good weekend.
Insurance will be the issue. Tens of thousands of buildings were damaged or destroyed along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and many residents with conventional homeowner's policies may not be compensated. Only those sustaining wind damage and those with flood insurance can securely anticipate recompense. This issue is unfolding, and I don't want to go overboard with pronouncements, but suffice to say standard policies--the kind you get when you take out a mortgage--do not cover against flood damage, and the insurance people are saying a 25-foot wall of water is a flood. At this moment, thousands of people on the gulf coast are staring at the prospect of financial ruin.
Why wouldn't someone living near the shore carry flood insurance? Homes in floodplains generally are required by financiers to carry flood insurance, but this hardly applies to many of the areas struck by Hurricane Katrina. I know a neighbor of mine, an elderly widow, who owns flood insurance. She bought it for her own peace of mind, but her well-meaning insurance agent initially counseled against purchasing it, telling her, "You don't need it where you are." She had a foot of water and mud in her house. Numerous buildings and neighborhoods struck by the storm surge (Yes, that falls under the insurance industry's definition of flooding.) had never suffered flood, and we're talking about many structures that predated the Civil War.
Surveying the damage, however, it isn't difficult to understand the insurance companies' disquiet. The payouts could be ruinous. This secondary wave is about to break. (9/14/2005)
I know this could get morbidly obsessive, but I'm going to continue with talk of Hurricane Katrina and the gulf coast. I had intended, today, to show you pictures of Pass Christian before the hurricane, but there'll be time for that later. Instead, I want to try to illustrate something for you. The picture at the right, an aerial photo swiped from The Mobile Register Web site, is from Dauphin Island, south of Mobile, AL. Just follow the links to see where we're going.
For two weeks, I heard people complain that New Orleans was getting a disproportionate amount of media attention. I didn't dwell on the matter, myself, because there were enough other things to worry about. To be fair, probably more human beings were affected by the New Orleans flooding than were affected by the hurricane otherwise, and the apparent destruction of one of America's oldest and most treasured cities was riveting.
However, because of network television's emphasis, I am coming to believe most of the country is unclear on the scale of the disaster elsewhere--the Mississippi coast, to be exact. It is horrific and deep. Had an ordinary hurricane wreaked the havoc of Katrina on Dauphin Island alone, it would have been a major news event. Admittedly, the situation is difficult to fully comprehend.
Well, I told you we'd try to return to something closer to normal around here this week, and we will, indeed, try. The wind somewhat departed the sails of our 20-year Arlo and Janis retrospective, didn't it? A lot can happen in a month or so. However, just to be stubborn, I'm going to officially wrap it up today with five cartoons from earlier this year.
The photograph on the left was taken by Atlanta-based photographer Ronald Martin. Ronald grew up in The Pass, the son of Roland Martin, who for years operated Martin's Hardware on Davis Avenue in little, downtown Pass Christian, MS. The Martin family home is on Second Street, not far from the picture here and not far from my own house.
I hope Ronald won't mind me grabbing this photo from his Web gallery--which I am going to show you in a moment--but this photograph illustrates something I mentioned last week. Judging from the roof visible in the aerial pictures we've been perusing the past several days, Lucio's Mexican Restaurant on the corner of Second Street and Davis Avenue survived Hurricane Katrina intact. Obviously, it did not. Many of the standing roofs in the aerial photographs hide sights such as this.
Ronald has posted several dozen of his photographs, taken within hours after Hurricane Katrina hit and showing the heart of Pass Christian, which we've been discussing. Also, Wendy Diard posted some excellent photos taken in the same area in the storm's wake. Along with the destruction, I think these pictures show what a "real" town this was, like all the Mississippi coastal cities. It wasn't all casinos and shell shops and vacation rentals.
We've grievously neglected the newspaper cartoon the past two weeks, and it pays the bills, which keep coming. Tomorrow, something very special and bittersweet. (9/12/2005)
I am trying hard to remember why we're all here: I draw cartoons, and you come to this Web site to enjoy them, bless your little hearts. Unprecedented events have overtaken us within the past couple of weeks, however, and, judging by the mail, those events are still prominent in your minds, as they are in mine. I will return to a more normal format next week, which will include cartoons, although I know we won't be finished talking about Hurricane Katrina for some time to come.
Many of you wrote to say the "walking tour" of Pass Christian, MS, was beneficial to your understanding of the disaster. Today, I am going to show you more of Pass Christian, but without my notations. First, I don't have time to prepare the notes today, and, second, much of what you will see is residential neighborhood where the destruction mostly will be self-explanatory. Remember I mentioned that the portion I showed you yesterday wasn't the worst of the damage in the Pass Christian area? Today, you'll see worse.
West Pass Christian includes a number of subdivisions and an area known as Henderson Point. This link will take you to an index map. Click on any or all of the 15 or so lower squares on the right hand side to see what happened to the houses in this area. This is relatively low terrain, and many of the homes here have been built since WWII. Generally, this area had the feel of a solid, middle-class suburb, which is what it was. There were some stately homes facing the gulf in this area, as well.
I feel as if I should clarify something. I was not in Pass Christian at the time of the storm. In fact, I was working and staying elsewhere. I said I am a "member of the Pass Christian community," and I am. I have lived there fulltime off and on for years. I have family and dear friends there and, as you know, property. I have been back twice since the storm, once in the immediate aftermath to survey my neighborhood and clean up what I could and again to take a small truckload of supplies to a shelter. I intend to return a third time as soon as I'm assured I can get into my house. I want to thank all who inquired about my well-being and offered direct assistance. Fortunately, I don't need anything compared to most. Next week, we will take up how we can help. Thanks for caring.
Also, I want to credit and thank NOAA for the aerial photographs. (9/9/2005)
So many have written about the devastation in Mississippi and in the town of Pass Christian in particular, that I hope you won't mind if today I forego the cartoons once again and show you some of the town.
The photograph is from the highly instructive series of aerial photos taken by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and released on its Web site. This particular photo is only part of "The Pass." I have added my own notes. I chose this photo, because it includes my house. Keep in mind, west Pass Christian, mostly not shown here, was hit far harder than the area you're about to see. It's a large image, and I hope it doesn't give you too much trouble, but you'll only have to download it once. So, let's take a look at Pass Christian, MS.
Many of you have asked how to help. I'm thinking on that, and I'll let you know if I think there's something specific you can do in the rebuilding effort ahead, but for now all I really know to do is to refer you to relief efforts of organizations on the ground in Mississippi and Louisiana. (9/8/2005)
The handiwork of Hurricane Katrina has had our attention for well over a week, now. If you haven't found them already, there are some amazing aerial photographs of southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast on the Web site of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Click on the little map, and you literally can see most of the damage for yourself.
When I can add something worthwhile to all that's being said about the storm and its result, I will, but until now I've felt inadequate to the task.
Most of you know I am a member of the community of Pass Christian, MS, a town heavily ravaged by Hurricane Katrina a week ago today.
The scene on the left is of Scenic Drive, a historic and beautiful stretch of stately beach homes, many of them built in the 19th Century by wealthy New Orleanians as a refuge from the city's heat. In its modest way, the two-mile stretch of houses overlooking Mississippi Sound rivaled Newport and Palm Beach as a graceful and noteworthy playground of the wealthy. It was a national treasure that largely was swept away by the storm surge that inundated Pass Christian and dozens of larger and smaller communities east and west.
The real charm of Pass Christian and much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, however, is its workaday quality that exists in the shadow of the grand homes and the hotels of the vacationers. Ordinary people--old families, retirees, Yankees, lawyers, plumbers, artists, fishermen--all considered themselves lucky to live close together on the thin ribbon of coast between New Orleans and Mobile. Before last week, the most pressing problem was how to protect this character and charm from an onslaught of development as the world inevitably tumbled onto this no-longer secret paradise. Now, an onslaught of a different sort has changed everything.
I will have more later, and--of course--more cartoons. Life will return to normal. I hope you will forgive me today, though, if we leave it at that. Updates may be sporadic. I am well; even my property, a block from Scenic Drive, fared well. I am lucky. Thanks, again, for all your prayers and thoughts.
(Once more, I refer you to the Website of The Sun Herald, the daily newspaper in Harrison County, MS, for excellent coverage of the still-developing disaster and the county's recovery.) Oh! And enjoy your Labor Day holiday! Remember: it's good to be alive. (9/5/2005)