31 May, 2006

Gulfport, Mississippi (again)

Back in February, I was passing through Gulfport, MS. I described some of the devastation I saw from Hurricane Katrina, and indicated how remarkable it was that the devastation remained six months after the disaster had occurred. I would have thought that they would have cleaned up most of the debris and demolished the dangerous buildings before then.

I was in Gulfport again a couple of weeks ago, and this time I brought my camera, to take pictures. Here goes:

As one of my acquaintances told me, What's more important than what you see, is what you don't see. If you look closely at the picture, you'll not see the houses and stores that were here once. You might see their foundations; I'm not sure if they'll appear in the photo. Clicking on the photo should give you more detail, but I'm not sure.

All these months after the hurricane, debris still hangs from trees along the coast, and trash is strewn across the ground. I want to emphasize that the cause for this isn't a lack of effort to clean things up. The devastation is simply overwhelming. Drive sixty miles inland, and you will see buildings with roof damage. A little closer to shore, and you can see road crews cutting trees that the winds twisted, snapped, and tore from the ground. Abandoned buildings dot the side of road. These were lively homes and thriving businesses once; all that remains now are darkened shells, collapsed roofs, and shattered walls.

As I had mentioned before, the First Baptist Church in Gulfport. It's in worse disrepair now than when I saw it in February. As I wrote then, you can see clear through the walls parallel to the shore. However, the walls perpendicular to the shore appear to be collapsing, also. I don't think this is due to demolition work; besides not seeing anyone working there, I don't recall ever seeing someone demolish a building by removing bricks from the bottom up.


Elliot said...

Do you think humanity is gradually going to have to abandon living in some of these areas? It sounds like this kind of hurricane might be regular occurrence for the forseeable future.

jack perry said...

I doubt it. Neapolitans live at the base of Vesuvius, Bedouins wander through the Sahara, hardy natives eke a living in the Siberian tundra, and Canadians live in Canada. ;-) Unless a place is absolutely inhospitable to human life, people will try to live there.

What humanity will certainly have to abandon is the reckless subsidy of living in such places. It's one thing to lend a helping hand to those who were genuinely unable to prepare for such circumstances, but we can't afford to subsidize every rich man's (or every company's) beachfront home on the Outer Banks.

Hazel said...

The rich man and the companies are rebuilding already but the just plain regular folk are still waiting for help. I'd love to see what it looks like from above these gulf shore areas with their blue-tarped roofs sprinkled throughout. Who will help those people?

Anonymous said...

I was in Biloxi just last week visiting my inlaws in their new home (their old home in Gulfport was flooded out during Katrina). I took my camera and took photos of many places my wife and I were fond of. I've been writing entries on my blog (http://www.anniemayhem.com/cgi-bin/wordpress/) about them. My wife and I have many relatives and friends along the Gulf Coast, all of whom were directly affected by Hurricane Katrina. Plus, my parents in Pensacola were directly affected by Hurricane Ivan. Both my wife and I have plenty of hurricane experiences.

jack perry said...

Hazel: You're right about the rich man and the companies rebuilding. USM is one of the companies rebuilding.

Flying overhead, I got to see a few trailer villages and quite a lot of blue tarp. (That makes me wonder, why is it always blue?)

As to who will help those people, there is a lot of charity work going on, and a lot of government assistance. The British newspaper The Guardian wrote an article about how there are no atheist youth groups going to help, but there are loads of Christian youth groups. I'm hoping that I'll be able to help somehow once I'm down there, although I can't seem to dig it up now. Certianly an awful lot more needs to be done.

For a while, I wondered if the media hadn't simply ignored southern Mississippi, since New Orleans makes for a better story. But I have seen articles on the ravaging of Gulfport.

carl: Thanks for the links to your weblog. Your series on Biloxi looks interesting, and I'll be reading it.

Sorry for the late replies. I've been a little busy, as some later entries show.