Well, here I am back in New Orleans (aka NOLA). I've been here about a week thus far - doing more counseling services for Katrina survivors. Today I slept in after a VERY late night with friends (the most fun I have had on my trip thus far!) I had a chance to see the wonderful Treme Brass Band at Preservation Hall (I thought this was a HUGE venue and was shocked at it's tiny size). The concert was wonderful and we sat/dance right next to the band. I have pics that I will try to share later.
Anyway - I woke up late today and decided to take a drive. I had been wanting to see what the areas around Waveland and Bay St. Louis Mississippi looked like. I knew it wouldn't be a pleasant view but I felt it was something I needed to see to understand. On the drive over I stopped in at Cracker Barrel (I have to admit a fondness for their Chicken and Dumplings ) due to the storm they are only open from 6AM to 6PM so I had an early dinner. After satisfying my Cracker Barrel craving I continued on to Waveland. Words can't began to really describe the devastation there. It was amazing to drive down the street looking at storm damaged homes and then suddenly there are NO homes. The houses are just totally missing from the foundations. I looked around online for an example of what I mean and this one from The Decatur Daily was the best I could find. On the Saturday before Hurricane Katrina hit Waveland, Miss., on, Aug. 29, Assistant Fire Chief Mike Smith photographed Waveland's beachfront homes. After the storm, he took pictures from the same vantage points.
All of Waveland is like that as is much of Bay St. Louis.
I had seen pictures online and on TV - but today I realized nothing, I mean nothing can really make you understand the enormity of this disaster unless you see it with your own eyes.
I realized this even more clearly as I was driving back "home" to my hotel in NOLA. I was talking to The Studly Boyfriend on the phone and explaining how one of my front tires was getting flat. I had filled it up with air but there was no gauge to check the pressure available. I explained this to him and he proceeded to tell me that I should pull into the next gas station and have them check it. Trouble is there are no gas stations to pull into that have attendants who can check things at 7PM. In this area you are lucky to find any store gas pump open. Gas station with someone to do something - hah! I again called him when I was driving home to say I was tired. He suggested I pull over and get a coffee. Hah again! I was driving down the highway with complete devistaion on each side of me. The malls that used to have Sam's Club, Toys R Us, Office Depot, Sears, etc are all completely closed. There are no people living or working in these areas. No electricity is on in most places. It was completely understandable to me that he suggested these options - they would make sense in most situations - but right now- right here things are different. Normal just isn't normal. And I think most people outside of the area just plain don't get that. How can you?