I haven't written too much about the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina to the city in which I live. It is painful. Today, I ventured south of Pass Road on Highway 49. The access to the beach is blocked off by barbed wire along the railroad tracks, a half mile away from the beach. There are armed guards that block any attempts at entry unless you are a resident of that area. That means two things. First, I cannot even visit my brother who lives in that area. Secondly, I still cannot visit my beloved beach.
As I stated in a previous post, the storm surge stopped at his door step. He is doing well but is anxious about the future. Currently, he is the maintenance supervisor at the Markham Building. The Markham Building sits on Highway 90 and was gutted by Hurricane Katrina. The fate of this landmark building is in the hands of the insurance companies and FEMA. Depending on the settlement, the building will either be torn down or rebuilt. If it is torn down, my brother will be unemployed at the end of this month. He says if that's the case, he'll be going to college to learn computer repair.
About my beloved beach. Since I was a child, I would either be fishing, swimming, or wandering around the beach area close to the Small Craft Harbor. I have never stopped and would spend hours each weekend just enjoying the people, the water, the boats, and the smell of the salty winds. I feel like a caged animal pacing restlessly back and forth because I cannot go. It may seem trivial compared to the devastation that is all around, but this was and will be again a big part of my life.
I was talking to my brother about these feelings and he said there is nothing there to see anymore. The Harbor Master's building is gone. The Coast Guard Station is gone. All the piers are gone. The Small Craft Harbor is gone. Marine Life is gone except for the huge tanks. The Port of Gulfport is heavily damaged. The White Cap Restaurant is gone. He said he understood my feelings because that is where we spent a good deal of our childhood.
I caught a couple of glimpses of the area south of the railroad tracks. You can see to the beach now. Except for a few houses that survived, there is nothing. Most of the homes and businesses are gone, nothing but piles of wood.
Things are slowly getting back to normal. FEMA trailers are coming in at the rate of 500 a day. At this rate, it will take 8 months for all those whose homes were destroyed to get one. That works about to be around 120,000 trailers to replace the 65,000 homes destroyed, the 38,000 heavily damaged, and 1/5 of the apartments and mobile homes which are unliveable in the six coastal counties of Mississippi.
Gulfport is going to rebuild and the piers, the Small Craft Harbor, and hopefully Marine Life will rebuild. The beaches will be restored and I and many others will be able to enjoy them once again. A lot of federal money is going to be needed and President Bush's proposed spending is very much needed to help us in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas rebuild our shattered lives.