Monday, January 22, 2007

1/22 Gulf Coast Louisiana to Gulf Coast Mississippi

I woke up at 3:40 AM--still didn't know when someone was going to pick me up, and I was a little worried. Turned out it was one person thought the other had given me the pick-up time. We straightened it out.

Jessica picked me up at 10. She's the state coordinator for Louisiana. We talked about many organizational matters as we toured. She took me through Lakeview where there had been about 12 feet of water. She showed me what looked like a park--originally full of homes, but when they disappeared, the place was used for debris piles--30 to 40 feet high and several blocks long.

We then went through the 9th Ward, one place where the levees broke. There, and in Chalmette, there is still no electricity in most places. Jessica said that when they first started doing disaster work there, they had to show IDs to go in, and had to go through decontamination stations to leave the area.

Jessica and I met John for lunch, and afterward John took me through the Mississippi side (where I would be working). We drove through Waveland to Bay St. Louis, where the bridge is out, so we took a car ferry over to Pass Christian. The highway 90 bridge is out also between Biloxi and Ocean Springs.

The damage in Mississippi different than in Louisiana, but whole cities are still devastated. Many of the casinos are back though, so the economy is on the upswing. Unfortunately there is so much work yet to be done, and the odds are that another hurricane will hit prior to everything being finished.

John and I had dinner tonight with his deputy. If I become the state coordinator, she would be my deputy, so it was important that we talk.

I really like everyone I met today, and I'm so impressed with the work they are doing. John is picking me up tomorrow and we're driving back to the New Orleans airport. I'll have more questions for him tomorrow.

4 comments:

Cindy said...

I heard a lot about Mississippi, post Katrina, as one of our paramedics was deployed there in the aftermath. It all sounded like a war zone to me, including his stories of fearing for ones safety continually. I know it is not anything I could ever do, ever want to do, so my hats off to you.

Anonymous said...

Jer,

If you take this job, I will rent a houseboat in La Crosse and meet up with you "down by the river".

Steve

Jer said...

Thanks, Cin. I'm not worried about safety issues, especially when I see people still without homes--living in tents and FEMA trailers. And everyone says that they've not had any problems in Biloxi and Ocean Springs, where the camps are located. I'll be smart and careful, and hope for the best. :)

Jer said...

Steve, cool. I'll be living in a van by the river.