Saturday, August 29, 2015

Who Knew? A Story of Katrina and the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Ten years ago today, she came on shore with a wrath most did not expect.  Her path was wide and the destruction immense.  She was strong, unforgiving, and gave no quarter as she passed through.  Her companion was the ocean.  Together, they rose to depths never imagined.  Together, they demolished structures and swept them out to sea.  Together, they changed the lives of many on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Who knew?
Who knew she would destroy 65,000 homes on the Mississippi Gulf Coast?  Who knew so many dear friends would have NOTHING left to the place they once called home?  Nothing...
Who knew she would lift a large building from its moorings only to carry it across a highway and sit it on top of a historic home?  
Who knew that MS Gulf Coast towns would be decimated by a storm surge of up to 32 feet?
Who knew we would lose so many historic homes? Preservation in Mississippi has a list of over 350 historic properties which were lost on the Mississippi Gulf Coast during Katrina.
(Photo Credit: Sun Herald of Grass Lawn circa 1850)
 Who knew she could dismantle the spans of a large bridge and topple them like dominoes?
Who knew she would destroy the buildings of many our Mississippi Gulf Coast churches?  We were married in this beautiful church 32 years ago. Many churches on the MS Gulf Coast were destroyed; however, the steeples and crosses were left almost untouched.  A powerful reminder that God is always with us.
Christ Episcopal Church, Bay St. Louis, MS...only the steeple.
First Baptist Church of Gulfport
Who knew that we would learn a new language...the language of the X-Code?  For some, the X-Code meant death.  For others, they saw the X as a cross and a sign of hope.  For search and rescue units, the X-Code contained critical information.  It was always heartbreaking to see a number in the bottom quadrant.
Who knew that many neighborhoods would be unrecognizable?  This is a neighborhood in Long Beach, MS. Photo credit: Gulf Coast News.
Who knew she would pull loved ones from their graves, some never to be found?
Who knew the immense pain, fear, and confusion that I and other counselors would see on the faces of children as we counseled them during the aftermath of the storm?
Who knew that entire schools would be destroyed? These are photos from one of the two schools which were destroyed in our district.  Our children were eventually housed in FEMA trailer schools.
Who knew that 70 countries and countless Americans would come to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to lend their assistance and help their fellow man?
Who knew that strangers would come to hold our hands and pray with us?
But...
We know the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast are resilient...
We know that tragedy can become triumph...
We know that together, with the assistance of kind and generous people from all over the world, we are rebuilding...
We know that the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast was created by a loving God who gives strength to the weary...
And we know that one day, we will be whole again.


"You are my lamp, O Lord, the Lord turns my darkness into Light" 
2 Samuel 22:29
Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse
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22 comments:

  1. Your post is unsettling and so very sad...you have opened my eyes up a tremendous amount about the devastation of Katrina. And some of your words describing how so many rallied around to help...very uplifting.

    Bless all of you who have carried on and rebuilt. I pray nothing of this magnitude ever happens in our country again.

    Jane x

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    1. I debated about sharing the truth of the tragedy and decided to share what came to my heart. There are so many tragic stories I could share. It was an awful storm, but we are recovering. I am still amazed that 10 years later, some people still are not back in their homes. Much of that has to do with the travesty which occurred with home owners insurance. One person was offered 500.00 for their 250,000 home from their insurance company. Many were given nothing. However, we are rebounding and will continue to do so. Thank you for your visit and prayers for all.
      Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse

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  2. Thank you for sharing what happened in your area. I live on the s.e. coast of FL about 3 miles inland and I hope and pray a storm surge like that does not happen here, or anywhere else again. It makes Hurricane Wilma, which we went through in Oct. of that year, look small in comparison. We all have storms in life to go through, and hopefully grow through and learn from. My heart and prayers go out for all who went through Katrina.

    FlowerLady

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    1. Well said Lorraine! We do all go through storms in life. It has been so heartwarming to see the kindness of strangers these last 10 years as they helped us through this storm. A group of therapists from New York came to the coast to give of their time as I and other therapists tackled the overwhelming task of taking care of the mental health needs of our students. I can say that all of the "coastal" inhabitants pray each year for a hurricane season free of storms for everyone.
      Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse

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  3. Thank you for sharing and reminding everyone that it wasn't just New Orleans that was devastated, but the whole coastal region of Fla., Ala., Miss., and LA

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    1. You are welcome, Suzan. President George Bush was here Friday along with his lovely wife, Laura. He was such an inspiration 10 years ago and still is today. Yes, it was not only about New Orleans, but about so many others. Thank you for stopping by!
      Blessings, Lynda

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  4. Dear Lynda,
    Your post brought tears to my eyes. Such a tragedy! It is just wonderful how others came and gave of their time and talents to help out. It really is amazing how resilient we humans are and with God's help we can make it. Thank you for sharing from your heart and I pray that nothing of this magnitude ever takes place again. God be with you all.

    Blessings,
    Sandi

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    1. Thank you Sandi. The natural disaster was and is a wonderful reminder of how many people follow God's message to us in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, "Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you are doing". We have certainly been encouraged and built up. Thank you for your sweet words!
      Blessings , Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse

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  5. I feel for the victims of Katrina. I live in a frequently flooded place in the Philippines as well. Each time, the devastation is quite sad; we loose a lot but never lost hope. I am glad for the kind people who sacrifice themselves to help, they sure remind us that God is watching and he will never leave us. There is even a hope for our dead loved ones. Someday we will see them again... Someday, we will all live in a world without suffering. (Revelation 21:4; John 5:28,29)

    Thanks for sharing...
    Maya: Tea in Sidi Bou Said

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    1. Dear Maya,
      I have viewed with sadness the destruction caused by the flooding and landslides in the Philippines and the loss of so many lives. The hope you mentioned in your comment is all important. Hope and knowing that we serve a mighty God who loves and cares for us. In Matthew 28:20, God tells us that "I am with you always, even until the end of age" and Isiah 41:10, "Do not be dismayed...I will strengthen you". Such encouraging words in times of devastation to our lands and to our people. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. God bless you...
      Blessings, Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse

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  6. I didn't know that you dealt with all of that. I've only seen it on the news. You actually lived in it! I can't believe it has already been 10 yrs since it happened.

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    1. Hi Kelly,
      I can't believe it has been 10 years either! People from all over continue to come and help rebuild. They are no longer strangers, but have become dear friends. Many come over and over. What a wonderful example of Luke 6:31: "Do unto others and you would have then do unto you"! Can you imagine how wonderful this world would be if everyone lived by the Golden Rule?! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Come back soon!
      Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse

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  7. Oh dear it all comes back doesn't it- I need to spend a little quiet time reflecting on my own memories and odd as it may seem I think seeing these pictures can be a useful thing- Lest we forget! btw I have my own 2005 photos..hurricane RITA got us..in a huge way over in southeast Texas [at that time]..will share later in the month.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Jonell. My goal was to tell about what happened to the MS Gulf Coast. During our travels, so many people will say that they thought the only destruction was in New Orleans. While New Orleans was certainly tragic, I feel that due to the numerous errors made by Louisiana officials, the already tragic natural disaster became an even bigger man-made disaster. It seems that caused all the media focus towards New Orleans. I am thankful for Governor Haley Barbour who was proactive in making sure that the citizens of Mississippi received quick attention. Hurricane Rita was on the heels of Katrina and was itself a powerful and devastating storm. Aren't you glad when Hurricane Season is over? I think the gulf states all breathe a collective sigh of relief!
      Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse

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  8. It was an unforgettable storm and left the landscape decimated. Storms do that, don't they? In our personal lives, too. Storms forever alter the landscape.

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    1. So true, Dayle. One recurring thought from many who lost so much is that they just lost "things". Maybe a new perspective on what is truly important? And acquiring back those things just isn't important anymore. Storms certainly change the landscape of our lives...
      Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse

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  9. Lynda,
    Thanks so much for sharing the story of how bad Katrina was for the Mississippi gulf coast. Here in Mobile it was bad, but nothing like the destruction that y'all had. I went over and helped out at a local church and while there, met a lady who I was really touched by her story...I came home and went out and collected items for her and went back over a few days later to give them to her. This lady was a middle class person, who had lost everything and she was at a place that she never in a million years thought she be. At the time of Katrina, we had a beach house...three beach condos and a home in Mobile...by March 2006 we had sold two of the condos...just couldn't take it anymore after Ivan (2004) and Katrina (2005).

    Blessings,
    Linda

    Blessings,
    Linda

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    1. Linda,
      Thank you for coming over and helping. I imagine you gave so much encouragement to those you helped. I heard on a recent show about Katrina that she did not discriminate. She didn't care which socioeconomic class you were in or the color of your skin. People who had great wealth prior to the storm stood in the same lines to get Tetanus vaccinations, food or water as those that had little before the storm. It was a humbling experience. Living on the Gulf Coast has great rewards along with those moments of shear panic as we await a storm. I can understand your need to sell the condos. I have friends who live along the river and some will clean up over and over after river flooding, but sometimes it just becomes to overwhelming and they just want to sell. Luckily for us, we sold our home near the bayou a year before Katrina. That home ended up with over 20 feet of water. Our home now sits well north of the interstate. Our creek has never risen above its banks and I pray never does!
      Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse

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  10. I was in Biloxi MS in 1969 when Hurricane Camille tore up the town and knocked down the bridge between Biloxi and Ocean Springs. Being from the vineyards of northern California I couldn't wait to get back to those little earthquakes we had. Katrina did so much damage it's hard to remember life before her. Thank you for this heartfelt rememberance.

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    1. Thank you for your sweet words. My father was in the military and we were in Hawaii when Camille struck. It was a terrible storm too. I think Katrina was Camille's Evil Step-Sister! Funny thing is after we left Hawaii, Dad was stationed in California. We were there for the 1971 earthquake. I remember being out of school for awhile. Structures had to be deemed safe and the large crack that formed on the school grounds had to be filled. It is a very unusual feeling being in an earthquake and the devastation can be overwhelming. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I bet there are not many of us who have experienced earthquakes and hurricanes!
      Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse

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  11. Lynda, I remember when we first learned of Katrina and the horrible devastation. Seeing these pictures saddens my heart. We were all glued to our televisions. There were so many stories of courage and love. Amazing how the steeples were preserved. I think it's a sign of hope from God! American people are so strong and united we stand!! Thanks for sharing this with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

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    1. You know Jann, a coast author wrote a book about the steeples of Katrina. It is and was a strong reminder of God's presence even in the midst of chaos.
      Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse

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