Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What I Didn't Teach

Katrina's eye, right over Mississippi
For years Hurricane Katrina was part of my science lessons.

How hurricanes form, how difficult it is to track them, what the heat of the Gulf of Mexico does to them, how Katrina wasn't even a hurricane by the time she hit New Orleans, what a storm surge is and how Katrina's filled up New Orleans like a bowl;  all of these things I covered.

What I never covered, and what the news media never covered, was what happened to the rest of the Gulf Coast, which was hit directly by a massive hurricane and a 30 foot storm surge (taller than Hall High School).
What used to be a residential community in Waveland, Mississippi.  No more.  Trees, houses, all wiped away.

Last month I visited a college friend that I had not seen in 40 years.  Tom lives in Biloxi.  He was the perfect host, driving me all over Biloxi, Christian Pass, and Waveland, showing me the sights.  Mostly what he showed me was huge expanses of empty coast - empty coast that had been covered with homes before August of 2005.

My friend's house had been severely damaged in the storm.  He told me about how he and his wife lived in a FEMA camp trailer for a year.  They pointed out building after building that was newly built after the storm.  They showed me pilings where homes had been blown away.

And then they sent me this link to photos of the area after the storm:

While the media showed video clip after video clip of New Orleans, the people of Mississippi were quietly rebuilding from total disaster.

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