Friday, November 30, 2018

"We'll Clean This Mess Up"

The title for this blog is the headline from the Mississippi Sun Herald's front page, September 3, 2005.  The quoted comment was made by then President George Bush, promising federal aid to rebuild the Mississippi Gulf Coast and help its residents rebound and restore from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. I do not know the final monetary amount provided by the federal government but the number mentioned in this newspaper's article was an initial first installment 10.5 billion dollars.  Looking at photographs from the destructive storm and now driving through the towns along the coastline, visiting shops, restaurants and campgrounds, to see the immense recovery it is nothing short of miraculous what these people have accomplished in 13 years.  Now, I am sure there are irrecoverable things we cannot see.  There are elements that will never recover such as the personal tragedies of the people. However as a tourist, the onlooker-visitor that we are, it appeared to us as we are "outside, looking in", that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is working its way back.

Yes, they did and still somewhat that mess up.

Fall has arrived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

This is a beautiful stretch of white sand beach along Highway 90 west bound between Gulfport and Bay St. Louis.

Many of the old live oaks that line Hwy 90 are showing regrowth and resilience after the rage of wind and salt water from Hurricane Katrina.

Our destination is the Waveland Ground Zero Hurricane Museum. Housed in this old school building built in 1927, it too has been restored after the storm's destruction. The Museum's purpose is to represent the resilience of Waveland and its Gulf Coast residents as they rebuild and rise up from the catastrophe.  It displays photographs, mementos and personal stories of the storm from Waveland as well as the surrounding community's rebuilding process. The exhibits were quite interesting and it is all an inspirational testimony to see how the people have survived despite this unbelievable adversity.  The Receptionist/Curator was also informative about many of the items and photographs there.

There are two markers in front of the building, one to mark the return of the community from Hurricane Camille and the new sign dedicating the volunteer efforts for Hurricane Katrina.

This is the repaired building now.  The next photo is from the Museum's collection of what the building looked like immediately after Hurricane Katrina.  This was the only building left on this street as well as the only public building left after Hurricane Katrina.

These beautiful handmade quilted wall hangings were made by Solveig Wells.  The Curator told us the artist collected scraps of fabric recovered from her home's wreckage and fabric remnants salvaged from the community's debris to create these geometric wall hangings.  They're evidence one can make something beautiful from the shredded fragments left by the storm.

This torn and tattered US flag somehow survived the storm.  It was found still on the flagpole in the debris of Waveland's Library.

Here, Ronnie is standing in the vestibule area of the Museum.  The hurricane's water level here was about 25 feet with huge waves on top of all that water!

These three photographs, from several on display in the Museum, made an impression on us.  Note the one on the left.  It is an 18ft Carolina Skiff boat on the roof of someones home.. that's even up on stilts.  What a tremendous force of nature must it have been to wash or blow that heavy boat up that high.

It is sad to think of all the immense, old-styled mansion homes that once lined the coastal highway that were literally washed away in the storm.  This photograph from the Museum's collection shows what happened to this beautiful three story mansion. Note: before and after the storm below.

Displayed front pages of the Sun Herald's September 5, 2005 publication.

As we drove by this stately group of old live oak trees, we realized that the empty property most likely held one of those 'old south-styled mansions".  It appears the owners only chose to rebuild back a small version of what was once was a stately home.

We saw a lot of rebuilding and new construction.  Most of the new homes now rest on stilts that are at least 20 feet high.

As the Mississippi Gulf Coast communities continue to regroup and promote regrowth, someone had the unique idea to create art from the huge old oak trees that did not live after the storm.  Click this link to see some of the creative carvings made from the dead trees in the Bilioxi area.
Hurricane Katrina Tree Sculptures
This particular carving from one of the dead live oaks is the The Angel Tree of Bay St. Louis.  It stands impressive along the shoreline in town.  This old tree once saved from being cut down, saved the lives of three people and a small dog during Hurricane Katrina.  They all clung to that tree as the storm surge washed around them.  Unfortunately the tree did not survive the salt water so the owners of the tree had this inspirational sculpture made from it and placed the carved tree in this prominent spot. It got our attention.

Now this huge dignified live oak survived Hurricane Katrina's winds and storm surge of salt water.  Look closely down to the end of the street, that is how close it is to the ocean.

Bay St. Louis is on the rebound from the hurricane.  We spent a few days here in July of 2005.  We recalled the artist community and town lined with art galleries and restaurants.

More rebuilding and reconstruction.

This is the new Waveland Beach Comfort Station now under construction.  There were so many places where we saw renewal of the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast region that we fondly remember.  Everything looked new and fresh yet the old regal live oak trees made the rejuvenated landscape look very natural and serene.  Welcome back!

Thanksgiving Day 2018, the Biloxi shrimp boats are in port.

The Biloxi Lighthouse and newly built Biloxi Visitor Center.

Ronnie enjoying a chilly but sunny Thanksgiving Day along the white sand beach in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Just a quick comment about the delicious food of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  We have really enjoyed some outstanding fresh seafood most notably shrimp.  We also found tasty Greek and Mexican food restaurants in Biloxi.  Discovering some incredible food deals in the casinos, we did manage to save a little money too.  Many of the casinos we visited offered discounted buffets, some costing us nothing or only a few dollars each. They'll do anything to get you inside to play their gambling machines.

  Quality Poultry and Seafood
 Desporte & Sons Seafood
 Mr. Greek Mediterranean
 El Milagro Mexican Grill
Beau Rivage Casino, Biloxi
Red Pearl Casino, Biloxi
Hard Rock Cafe Casino, Biloxi
Island View Casino,Gulfport
Silver Slipper Casino, Waveland

Unfortunately the motorhome's steps quit working a while back.  "Don't ya hate when that happens." This was a good stop to get a new motor shipped.  Here, Ronnie makes the needed repair.

This wraps up 2018 and our travels of this year.  We plan to spend the month of November at my Mom's in North Carolina where we will complete the annual medical exams and enjoy the Christmas Holidays with her, family and friends.  We plan to spend the winter 2019 in Florida, on our rented RV lot at Deer Creek RV Park in Davenport.  Thanks to all the people who happened to stop by and read my blog throughout the year.  I appreciate it.  This November marked our six year anniversary of being full-time RVers.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

More Later in the year 2019.

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