I want to put these images into perspective. Multiply times… like, a million and then maybe the magnitude of the destruction can be felt. And don’t forget, this is 364 days after the storm hit. Much of the debris that was strewn everywhere has been cleaned, burned, recycled or simply and somehow removed. It still resembles a war zone.
In Mississippi, everything along the Gulf Coast is gone. All that is left are skeletons - from the knees down. In Mississippi, the FEMA trailers tend to be grouped into communities that look just like trailer parks except they’re on what were formerly school grounds, parking lots or any other area that could be cleared of debris. In New Orleans, the devastation was primarily from floodwaters that remained for weeks – the debris came more from the homes’ guts being removed and piled on the streets – in Mississippi, there was nothing left to gut.
They are rebuilding. Like their counterparts in New Orleans, they’re a tough lot and not the type to simply give up and leave. It is a slow process. And like New Orleans, one of the most commonly posted signs states: “Now Open.” However, again like New Orleans, there is so very much left to do. And… there is more. It’s not just New Orleans and the surrounding area; it’s not just the Mississippi Gulf Coast; it’s everything in between.
There is devastation along Interstate 10 from New Orleans to the Mississippi state line. As far inland as 30 feet above sea level, their world was rocked. Although the flood waters from the storm surge came and left in one motion, combined with the winds she generated, Katrina showed no mercy. She was an equal-opportunity disaster and all that were in her path felt her wrath. The scars are healing, but Katrina has become the national standard by which all future disasters must be measured.
Now as the media, the government and the nation remembers the day that redefined so much, it is also time to remember not to forget. There was an impressive outpouring of support, financially and otherwise from a nation that was stunned, but it faded over time. The real work is being performed everyday by those who must to rebuild their homes and by the unsung volunteers that are selflessly giving more than just their money. They are giving something that is needed now more than ever – their sweat.
Many of these efforts are coordinated and administered by volunteer organizations, and I’m not just speaking of the likes of the Red Cross or the Salvation Army, although their efforts cannot be understated. I am speaking of the efforts of literally thousands of small volunteer efforts from small locales… and they are doing big things. Many of these groups are small churches whose volunteers pay many of their own expenses to help those who have lost everything. These are the people who are getting the job done – this is the kind of help that is needed most. They know how to get things done – by doing it.