Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Katrina Revisited by Leigh Bratina

(Photos by Leigh Bratina)
Two years ago Hurricane Katrina was engulfing the gulf coast region in havoc. Areas affected stretched from Texas to Florida, with the hardest hit ares being Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Immediately following the hit I asked my neighbors and my son's high school for help. They came to the aid of the coast, providing a full truck and full trailer load of supplies. The supplies ranged from flashlights and gas to dog food and water. Together with my 2 friends (Randy and Cliff) as well as my son, Twinkle Toes and Randy's daughter, A we drove the 4 hours to Pascagoula, Mississippi not fully knowing what we would find. The devastation was tremendous. There were some ares where all that was left of homes were cement foundations, and nothing else. I recall looking down a set of railroad tracks and seeing clothing all in the trees. It was eerie. This was people's lives-literally up in the air. It was a sad reality. There was looting and a bit of controlled hysteria. We spent 3 days in Pascagoula handing out supplies and fixing and repairing what could be salvaged further inland. A week later I drove to Hattiesburg with more neighbors, where we brought more supplies and cash money. I even tried to convince a family to move in with me. I was so affected by the sight of their two small children, actually living in the parking lot of a coliseum, exposed to all the elements. Their pride was evident as they turned me down, but asked me to pray for them. A week later I drove to Gulfport with my cousins and handed out clothing and gift cards we had collected from generous friends and family. It was heartbreaking. Politically, it divided a nation, but on a personal level, it brought many together. Neighbors became family, and everyone wanted to help. The nation, as individuals came together.
Two years later, there have been strides to rebuild, but much of the revenged landscape and tattered lives remain. There are still families living in Fema trailers. There are other families who upon being relocated were brought to separate cities and are still living apart. Others, were completely lost-LOST forever. It makes me ask myself, how can we as a nation better prepare for something of this magnitude? What can we do to give aid to those that need it in a timely manner? The questions remain, just as the fema trailers.

**For a pictorial of our visit to Pascagoula, MS visit my web site, http://www.photomemories.discoveringminds.com/ and click on the left side of the screen under Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort photos.

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