Sunday, August 31, 2008

Guest Post from Tom Wright, in Brandon, Mississippi

Sunday, August 31, 2008
I remember how it was three years ago before we knew of the potential for the danger that was to come. There was a sense of excitement, an anticipation, that something was going to happen but it was more like the feeling that we got waiting for the first day of school to start. A little buzz of emotional electricity. There wasn't a "carnival" like atmosphere, we'd been through hurricanes and their after effects before and know how serious they can be, but folks just went about their daily lives on a bright and sunny summer day.

Now, I live in the central part of Mississippi, in Brandon, just ten miles east of the capitol city, Jackson. When a hurricane hits our coast, believe it or not, we feel the affects, not anything like they do on the coast, but it sometimes gets nasty, a lot of strong wind and a whole lot of rain. When Katrina hit, it was like nothing we'd seen in a long time, at least since Hurricane Camille. The actual storm was something to behold. The wind was like nothing that I'd ever seen and the torrential downpour was a virtual "frog strangler". In my neighborhood there are a lot of old and very large pine and oak trees, many that were uprooted or just snapped off. Many trees came down on houses, destroying a good bit of the house, if not the whole thing. We were without electricity for over a week - it was August and it was Mississippi and it was hot.


At my house we were lucky. A large tree was snapped off at the base and came down on my storage barn and my wife's car, barely grazing the house. A huge pine tree in my neighbor's back yard, behind my house, snapped and barely missed my house, wrecking my back fence. This was nothing compared to the damage that others experienced.




There was utter chaos as Katrina hit. Folks waited until the last minute to evacuate and there were tremendous traffic jams on the roads from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Louisiana, Alabama and even Texas. The motels and hotels were full all of the way to north Mississippi. After the storm, well, you know the story. I want to say in support of my much criticized state, that good Samaritans came out of the woodwork, providing shelter, gasoline, food and even money to the evacuees.

This time it's different. Folks are taking things much more seriously. The highways from Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast have already been turned into "contra-flow" highways, meaning that traffic can only head one way - north or east. Shelters have already been opened and mandatory evacuations have been ordered. I heard on public radio that, before Katrina, Bourbon Street in New Orleans was "party central", but last night it was almost deserted - a wise move.

If anyone is interested in listening to what is going on in the way of preparing for the storm, you can listen online to Mississippi Public Radio, which is broadcasting storm info non-stop.
You can listen online at:

We'll see what happens. The anticipation and anxiety is definitely here, even though the day has dawned bright and sunny and humid. We'll keep you posted. Wish us luck and keep us in your prayers.

Thank you, Tom, for your memories and photos from Katrina and your thoughts on Gustav. If any of you have photos and/or thoughts you would like to share here on Mama and Me from PDX, e-mail them to me, and I will post them for you. We continue to pray for everyone's safety.

Tom graduated from Corvallis High School in 1964. Be sure to take a look at the CHS Class of 64.


Here's some information/comments from another dear Mississippi friend, Fredna Gibson.

How about Tom Wright???? He did an excellent job describing how Katrina affected our part of the state.
I don't think people realize that hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, not New Orleans. New Orleans received damage from flood waters when their dams breached. New Orleans also got so much more national media attention than the coast because of the devastation from flooding.

The MS Gulf Coast, on the other hand, was wiped off the face of the earth. I don't think people actually realize that.

It will break your heart (three years later) to drive down Beach Blvd from Ocean Springs to Long Beach, there is nothing left but a few casinos. In fact, you can't drive all the way to Long Beach!!! All of the beautiful antebellum homes are gone, none have been rebuilt. It looks like a giant hand reached down and scaped the coast clean.

I have cried every time we have visited the coast. I have family in Gulfport, they will be traumatized for the rest of their lives as a result of Katrina.

We are all praying that the Lord will calm the storm so that the damage will be minimal.

And just now, Fredna e-mailed to say, "I think we dodged a bullet this time with Gustav, thank you Jesus!!! Thank everyone for your prayers." Amen.


Jim said...

Thanks for sharing Toms story. The pictures are scary. I cant imagine going through that.

DeterminedPeace said...

Thanks for the post Tom. Good luck. Our prayers are with you and everyone in that area.

jill said...

Lynette, thank you for Tom's post and photos today. We hope Gustav fizzles and damage is minimal.

Team Splashi said...

Thank you for update and first hand info from Mexican Gulf area.

Hilda said...

I've been praying since I heard about Gustav. I hope that everyone you love there is safe.

The Philippines is hit by many typhoons every year — our rice fields need the monsoon rains and we can't have one without the other. The problem is that the paths seem to have moved in recent years. So the provinces hit were not prepared and the damages and losses have been awful.

Our government's National Disaster Coordinating Council finally got the brilliant idea of working closely with climatologists in educational institutions. I hope it will help.

Chris said...

Such a great post, Lynette. I actually was wondering if you lived in MS when Katrina hit?

Our son lives in Ft. Myers, and I was a basket case when Faye hit a few weeks ago. He had to work 18 straight hours and said it was just a lot of "wind and rain." Kids.

I hope your family and friends are all okay.

PJ said...

This was a very touching post and I think your friend did a great job of describing what it's like to go through a hurricane as "collateral damage". We lost our home in Ivan, completely destroyed, over twenty miles inland on a bay. It seemed that all the press was interested in was Pensacola Beach.
The damage from each hurricane that comes ashore in the Gulf is always much more extensive than people will ever know. I spent this morning and into the afternoon at home because we had tornadoes courtesy of Gustav right here in my neighborhood in Pensacola. This stuff really happens, you just don't hear about it.
I know how devestating the damage to the Mississippi Gulf coast was and know that it will take many, many years for the area to recover, but i feel certain that one day it will.