Gratefully Mother Nature has not rained on us since the storm. We live about 5 miles out from town. All the homes in town also lost numbers of trees and suffered tremendous loss of crushed bedrooms, dens, living rooms, etc. The streets are still not fully passable because debris is in piles 8-10 feet high or more and sometimes only one lane wide. Power and telephone is still being restored in some places where power lines and poles fell. We are still under a boil water directive out in the county. Many people lost their jobs when businesses and homes were destroyed on the coast, but businesses that do roofing, tree removal, flooring, dry wall, construction, landscaping, or interior design are booming. Even the company where my husband is newly employed, Howard Industries in Laurel, just received an order for 1 million transformers. Loggers are now looking for large poles for telephone poles. So hopefully we can have a timber expert check on our property, both here and the 140 acres of pines in the next county, sometime this week to see if maybe we can recoup some of the losses we have in timber. And we are just a microcosm of what has hit the state of Mississippi. The further south, the greater the damage.
The number of volunteers that have come from neighboring as well as distant states to help at all the various churches and community centers, helping people clear immense piles of debris and put temporary blue tarps on gaps in roofs, has been an amazing thing to witness. Hattiesburg is a city of houses with blue tarps now. Home Depot and the like are doing a booming business. The university where I work, Southern Miss, is back in class this week despite the loss of trees and inaccessible areas. Traffic lights are out for long stretches of road , but people are patient and grateful that Katrina was not any worse than it was. I am unaware of any loss of life in our community due directly to Katrina which speaks highly of people's preparedness and perhaps our good fortune. And we are gaining many new residents for at least a while - real estate is being snatched up right and left by coastal residents who lost everything and may choose to live elsewhere while they rebuild. Many might just stay - particularly those who are well-to-do retired not tied to any business. Or businesses may relocate here. Only time will tell the full impact that such a storm has on the demographics of an area. But meanwhile, the past two weeks have given time for contemplation of what matters most in life. It is the people - the family, the friends, the neighbor, the community, life itself - that matter deeply. Houses can be replaced or rebuilt, but life is a precious commodity. We can never repay all the kindnesses that have been done in this city, in this state. All we can do is answer the call when we see someone else in need elsewhere and pay it forward.
Hooray for the class of '58. Hi to you all.