I flew back a day early yesterday. I'm glad I did. I missed my wife and kids. My Paw Paw's service and funeral were very nice. While I was down there I rode along the coast and was very upset by the devastation caused by Katrina. Seven months have passed and the coast still looks like a war zone.
I spent about 30 years of my life on the coast and even I couldn't remember where some landmarks used to be. Everything around those places has been swept away, so there are no points of reference. I went to every place I lived on the coast throughout my life to see if they were still standing. Some were, some were not. These first pictures are of my grandmothers house. This is the house where I rode out hurricane Camille in 69'. In 69 the only water that got in was from the rain blowing in. During Katrina I had family who thought it would be safe to stay (we all made it just fine in 69). During Katrina, my family had to swim out and go to neighbors on higher ground. After the hurricane, the water line on the walls was about 6 feet.
The pics above looks like everything is ok, huh? Well, the pics below are what it look likes on the inside of my Maw Maw's. This is why her and my Paw Paw have been living with my mom and dad.
The pic above is looking into the kitchen/dining room from the car port entrance. Notice the slats of frosted glass on the door on your immediate left. My relatives couldn't get the door open by the time they realized the water was too high in the house. They had to "crank" the glass slats open to let the water out of the house.
The pic above is from the living room looking through one bedroom and into my maw maws and paw paw's room in the back. A bunch of great childhood memories came back to me while I stood there taking these pictures.
The pic above is the house that my mom and I lived in when Camille hit. Notice the red markings on the door. The markings let authorities know it's been searched for casualties. My mom and I were reported as casualties after Camille because the neighbors told authorities we had stayed in the house.
This pic above is where my wife and I lived in a military duplex while stationed at Keesler AFB. I spent the first 9 yrs of my career at home in Biloxi. There was a large military housing neighborhood that was actually off base and on the back bay of Biloxi. The entire neighborhood was flooded or destroyed.
This was a place where my dad would take us to breakfast after church on Sunday's when we were kids. Notice how the road is washed out. This was on the beach about 100 yards off the water.
The hotel above is where I was a part time maintenance man when I was a young Airman. Notice the second pic shows the asphalt comes out further than the building. That's because the entire lobby and adjoining restaurant were washed away. This building is also only about 100 yards off the gulf.
The pics above are of the Biloxi/Ocean Springs Bridge. I stood in O.S. at the point where the bridge joins land and looked back into Biloxi (West). The second pic shows how thick the concrete and rebar were. The force of the water broke the bridge like a piece of thin plywood.
I don't know if I will take my wife and kids back there when I retire in 18 months. These pictures don't begin to show the full impact on the coast. The people are different now. My whole trip was bizarre.
The above picture was sent to me by my aunt a couple of weeks after the hurricane. The house has not been touched since (almost 8 months have passed). It is the house my biological father was living in. It belonged to my grand pa and grand ma. After my mom and father divorced, I would go visit my grand parents on weekends. This old house also holds many great childhood memories. The front porch of the house is blown in. My father doesn't even have a tarp to try to keep the rain out. Unbelievable...I spoke to him for a minute. He looked horrible. I believe he had the shakes from not drinking that day. I don't expect him to live much longer. I was so pissed at him that I didn't even engage him about getting help with the house or anything else. I try not to pass judgment because it took me a long time to get sober. I could very easily forget my roots and let my ego get the better of me. That would get me back to taking a drink, and I'd be fucked for life.
Anyway, that's my story for now. I'm sad for my family on the coast for the loss of my paw paw, and for the state of the coast. I'm happy to be back in TX with my wife and kids.