One Year Later

Published 6:10 pm Thursday, August 24, 2006

Our first year of remembrance. Just like the death of Elvis, Hurricane Camille and 911, we will honor the first year anniversary of a national disaster. Of course Elvis death maybe a little drastic, but to some it was and is a bleak day on the calendar.

I don’t think anyone will be throwing any parties for Katrina’s first birthday. No one wants to celebrate on this day. We grieve and mourn a way of life, loss of life and an easier life.

There are causes for celebration. The fact that we haven’t had another big one when every media weather man was trying to scare us with how horrible this season was going to be. But, then, the peak has just begun.

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We can celebrate we survived the storm, the aftermath and the rebuilding (or at least the first year of many more to come.)

We can celebrate the fact that some replaced outdated homes with brand new houses, furniture, appliances, and new stuff. Who needs antiques anyway?

We can celebrate FEMA trailers can’t possibly get any smaller.

We can celebrate some homes have had an addition due to the storm…..the diaper changing variety.

My hometown has changed forever. No one can deny that. Pearl River County has experienced growth like never before. We have new neighbors and new neighborhoods popping up on every blade of grass. Welcome newcomers!

It is never easy growing. When you are young, you get pains when you grow. When you are older it hurts to button your pants when you grow and when you bring in an abundance of people to an area, it hurts to see your small town disappear. Growing pains are a necessity of life.

We must accentuate the positive and throw the negative into the debris pile. From our year in recovery, we have some good things that Katrina has brought. Yes, most of our new folks are quality people and most that lived here before were quality people. Now if both groups just stay on the less tolerable ones, we can build a great place to live.

It is accent verses accent. Country meets town and who can only imagine what kind of sound the offspring of these two groups will sound like. Our new generation will be a melting pot of Mississippi woman and Louisiana Man. Sunday dinner is gumbo and pecan pie.

One of the fringe benefits of our disaster has been us gaining some good restaurants and other businesses due to the relocaters. Heah, Emeril, we can set you up, come on over to the high and dry land.

Those wives who have been on their husbands for years to update the kitchen have answered prayers thanks to the big pine tree Katrina brought down right on top of the old Kenmore appliances.

One year later, we all take emergency planning a little more seriously. Those who never put together a plan or never hoarded groceries are now thinking about these things. It doesn’t mean they will do it the next time, but at least they are thinking of it.

One year later, we see a frightening rise in post emotional issues such as suicide, drug use, and abuse. Old folks and young ones suffer the most. Every one who has suffered loss is now suffering a lack of patience, lack of kindness, and lack of intimacy. Anger is replacing numbness.

Recovering Katrina victims need a way to release their frustrations. They need to have an outlet of fun or relaxation. But where can we find these things?

Crime is higher one year later.

There is a theory that our air is also contaminated, filled with newer blooming things and unsettled spores from all the mold growing in New Orleans. Don’t breathe in too deeply. Use to, Mr. Pearson would stand on the streets and say, “Smells like Bogalusa.” If he were alive today he would just be sneezing.

Documentaries are being aired such as Mr. Spike Lee’s version of Katrina featuring mostly New Orleanians. Newscasters are playing old clips of the devastation as they return to our area for the big anniversary. The problem is some areas look about the same. Might as well save film.

We will have to relive all the horror again. I find that we need to be reminded. It gives us motivation to make it better the next time. I don’t agree with the mentality of those who do not want to continue to replay the 911 videos where we see the true horror of the day. The shock has worn off and the anger is slipping. Go see the Oliver Stone movie and relive a few moments. Feel it again.

The political fall out continues with Hurricane Katrina. It is like a Saints game…they play poorly and the masses of the Crescent City are calling for the heads of the quarterback and the coach. In this case that would be Nagin the quarterback, Blanco the coach and Bush the commissioner. But shouldn’t we leave some blame for the actual players…the calls could have been bad along with the leadership, but sometimes a loss comes from lack of talent, execution and plain common sense.

People are still pointing fingers, blame games and what should have happened as if they are Monday morning quarterbacks. The moral of the story is to make plans to take care of your own and never ever depend on anyone else or the government entities to bail you out. Even if they should, you have to take some of the responsibility. Just in case… be self sufficient.

It doesn’t matter. What happened…happened. You can’t pretty it up and you can’t make it go back.

The great thing that many Katrina sufferers have seen is that the great nation we live in may have its political debate, its power struggles, and different ways of not performing but when it comes to the generosity, kindness and giving spirit of the people, once again, our United States scores high. Scores of people, young and old still continue to give of their time, their money, their stuff and their prayers for the recovery. Even after one year…they still care.

Be wary and prepare there are plenty of more days on the calendar to set up national disaster anniversaries. Let’s try not to double up either…stay safe.