Hurricane Katrina, three years later

Published 6:21 pm Friday, August 29, 2008

Three years after one of the most devastating storms tore through Mississippi, another threatens the state’s shores. Friday the City of Picayune will hold a ceremony in memory of days without electricity and a time when FEMA became a household name during the years of recovery that followed.

Friday morning, Picayune city officials held a Hurricane Katrina Remembrance Ceremony in front of the historic city hall on Goodyear Boulevard.

The ceremony may bring back memories of clearing roads or scrounging for high priced gasoline after category three Hurricane Katrina passed through Pearl River County on Monday, Aug. 29, 2005. Before the storm, $2 a gallon was enough to make pocket books cringe. With Gustav on a path for the northern Gulf Coast, most pumps ask for about $3.68 a gallon in Picayune.

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Hours after Katrina passed hodgepodge crews consisting mostly of county residents hit the streets with chain saws to cut up downed trees, clearing roads they blocked.

Shelters were crowded immediately after the storm. Local schools and some churches operating as shelters took in locals and transients from the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Louisiana.

Within days faith-based organizations brought in much needed supplies. A little less than a week later FEMA arrived with ice, water and blue roofs. Later the agency would provide those living in severely damaged homes with temporary housing.

Blue roofs popped up across the county to repair leaky roofs, FEMA temporary housing popped up in front of damaged homes and occupied existing and temporary trailer parks. City and county officials did all they could to bring services to residents, while electric companies and communications companies brought in outside help to help restore services.

Weeks and months later, Picayune and the surrounding county began to return. Fast food operations resumed their services, with lines of cars backed up around the block so residents could get a taste of what life was like before the storm closed them down. Carbonated drinks were again available at gas stations, cold to the touch, and fueling up a vehicle no longer involved hours of waiting in line.

The call for help was heard around the world, Pearl River County and every other area affected by Katrina were adopted by communities elsewhere. Those communities sent people to help rebuild homes, distribute supplies and show support.

Changes came after the storm. The government of Picayune moved to a new location on Beech Street, the Pearl River County Utility Authority was formed and several people who took shelter in the county became permanent residents.

Now, three years later, Picayune is fully functional, but residents are concerned of a repeat of Katrina from a storm called Gustav.