Day 2: Bay St. Louis, Diamondhead, Gulfport, Longbeach, Pass Christian (Outline Version)

I was in the middle of writing about Day 2 last night, but it got very late, so here’s the outline of what I did yesterday (1/23). Today I should have some more time to catch up on writing and, if I can get on high speed internet access, posting many more photos.

Mid morning – early afternoon
1. Bay St. Louis coastline: the entire coastline of vacation homes and other buildings wiped out completely.

2. Diamondhead Yacht Club: surrounding the yacht club were three story homes built along canals that come off the St. Louis Bay. All that was left of the houses were portions of their wood frames.

Late afternoon – 10:00 pm
1. Gulfport: brief tour with Gayle Tart, Carland Baker, Sam Edward Arnold, and Billy Morgan of the African American neighborhoods: Turnkey, Turkey Creek, Central Gulfport. Saw historic African American St. Paul AME Church, est. 1907, now severely damaged, in Central Guflport, on the corner of 21st St and 32nd Ave.

2. Long Beach: Beach front destroyed, like Bay St. Louis . Went to the location of Carland Baker’s former home.

3. Pass Christian:

  • Drove along the decimated coast line.
  • Met white Christian volunteers from Washington State and Ohio who were in MS through a program set up by the Delta Ministries. They were all working to clean up and restore the plant nursery of Nancy Adams, 80 years old, white.
  • Next door, as you head up Davis Ave, away from Rt. 90, is the Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church, a Black church which took water nearly up to its ceiling rafters. Met the Pastor, Harry Toussaint, the Deacon, Robert Stewart, and other congregation members who were working on restoration of the Church.
  • Went further north on Davis Road and documented some more of the devastation. Saw what was left of Labats Restaurant, an historic African American establishment.
  • Went to the home of Gayle Tart’s late brother, who died with his two year old son inside their home, after the house filled with water during Katrina.
  • Visited FEMA trailer park, housed in the A-1 RV Park. Two interviews with African American storm survivors: 1) Violetta Hall with Carland Baker, Sam Edward Arnold, and Billy Morgan 2) Mama Gerry Hall, mother of Violetta. Violetta Hall told of her family’s experiences surviving the storm. She and the other three men talked about some of the current issues around living in FEMA trailers, federal assistance, and employment. Violetta’s mother is from the Upper 9th Ward of New Orleans and was in Mississippi with her daughter the weekend when Katrina hit. The elder Mrs. Hall used to have a weekend job at the assisted living facility where Violetta worked full time, in Long Beach. Mrs. Hall spoke about the damage to her home in New Orleans and her strong desire to return there. Mrs. Hall also emphasized that many of her friends and neighbors, like her, are actively rebuilding and trying to return home.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Day 1: Arriving In Gulfport/Intro to the Gulf Coast

Yesterday (1/22), I got into Gulfport later than planned: my connecting flight from Atlanta to Gulfport was delayed, and I had to change my car rental because of some problems I had with my original reservation. I was fortunate that Gayle Tart met me at the airport, because I don’t know if I would have succeeded in changing the car rental without her help.

Gayle met me at the airport, along with Carland Baker, a retired veteran. Both Gayle and Carland are African American residents of the area. Gayle was raised in Gulfport and lives there now. Carland was living in a beach front housing complex in Longbeach. His townhouse was completely destroyed. He lost everything he had and is now living in a FEMA trailer on the local army base. Gayle is the person who urged me to make this trip.

I followed Gayle and Carland out of the airport to where they could drop Carland’s car off, in the Wal Mart parking lot on Rt. 49, the road that runs north-south, through Gulfport, starting at Rt. 90, which runs east-west, along the length of the Gulf Coast.

Gayle and Carland got into my rental car, and we drove down to Rt. 90 and then headed east, along the coast, through Gulfport and into Biloxi. It was already getting dark when we started. This dimly lit introductory tour was just an initial taste of the coastline which is decimated across the entire length of Mississippi and into Mobile, Alabama.

While in Gulfport, we went slightly north for a stretch of 2nd Street, an exclusive, wealthy area, now mostly a mixture of rubble, houses with walls and roofs pushed in, and mashed cars. Further east on 90, as we got into Biloxi, entire casinos on barges had been carried by the surge of water out of ocean and onto dry land on the north side of the highway.

More details later, perhaps. I need to tell some of the details of what I saw today.

Technorati Tags: ,