As I watched TV, I just sat and cried. That's all I could do on that day in late August, 2005. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, more than 80% of my hometown of New Orleans was underwater. Both homes I knew as a child were flooded, up to six feet in some spots. My home as a teenager in Slidell, was also flooded. This one at had at least nine feet of water. Oh and I forgot to mention this house was on the water and my dad built it 16 feet above the water level. That gives you an idea of the scope of the flooding. But even as New Orleans was underwater, many people ignored what was happening about 50 miles to the east.
Many of my summers as a kid were spent on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Less than an hours drive from NOLA, "the Coast" as we called it was just as devastated. As the storm surge moved ashore, it took everything with it. As it moved inland, it still took everything with it. My parents home is five miles from the Gulf of Mexico and one mile from the northern most tip of Bay St. Louis. They had three feet of water in their home and piles of debris on the lawn...some of which was dragged inland from the coast.
Three months after the storm, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, my current employer, sent me to Mississippi to document the aftermath and the cleanup. Or the lack thereof. It's been nearly seven years since the storm and many of the scars are still there, but life has returned to normal and it's thriving.
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