Ghosts on the Coast

I became a little obsessed with Katrina history when we stayed in Ocean Springs, MS. This whole stretch of the Gulf coast was pretty much destroyed in that hurricane. As we drove there from New Orleans there were places that still, and this is 10 years later, seemed devastated. Old debris was tangled up in the marsh grass and rusting-out boats lay on their sides next to concrete pads. Not a structure to be seen anywhere. And then there are towns like Biloxi and Ocean Springs that look really charming and shiny. I'm used to Pittsburgh, where lots of things - bridges, light posts, etc.  - are rusty and old-looking. And that's pretty much the way the rest of the south looks as well. But I had a

M and I were paying a lot of attention to the coverage of Katrina in 2005. We were living in Phoenix, where I had been assigned by TFA. New Orleans was the second choice on my application, and we wondered how things would be different if we had moved there instead. A year later, we drove through the area and briefly volunteered with an eclectic group called Emergency Communities.

I noted a selection of hurricane themed children's books in the library we visited. Plaques on the sides of buildings. As we walked to the beach, an occasional bare concrete pad sat between two carefully manicured yards. A shadow of a gravel driveway leading to nothing. A tiny local museum featured Katrina art.

I read this thorough account of the storm surge, which included lots of NOAA maps and before and after pictures. So much of the disaster was made worse by poor handling of it. People unprepared to fend for themselves and the government proving that it was not something to be relied on. The feelings of betrayal linger even a decade later. But most of the rest of the country has forgotten.

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