Katrina was a natural disaster that ravaged the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and a man-made disaster that devastated the historic city of New Orleans. It was an epic event, whose aftermath revealed the very best in human nature — and the very worst.
The landscape along the Gulf Coast was forever altered by the rage of the storm, as entire towns were literally wiped off the map, and New Orleans was so traumatized by the physical destruction, the chaos, and the subsequent exodus of so many, it appeared that it too, would completely perish. Katrina was a life- altering experience for everyone it touched, exposing both the fragility and the strength of a nation.
It is the tenth anniversary of that monumental event, and this week we’re remembering it and paying tribute to those who suffered at its hands.
We first present a short discourse by Joe Goodell, a Mississippi resident who, these many years later, felt the need to talk about the devastation. Later in the week, we’ll re-publish an essay by ex-pat, Carla Heffner Carlisle, written from her home in England, where she powerlessly endured the horror of Katrina.
by Joe Goodell
Sometime after John Hope’s daughter graduated from high school in 1969, she married US Representative, Jim Marshall of Georgia. Aside from that, and being an attractive and bright young lady, you’d not notice anything particularly remarkable about her.
John was a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in 1969, when the rules for naming hurricanes consisted of just three: female, alphabetical order, and not on the retired list. So he tossed her name into the hat, and thought nothing more about it. If she knew of her dad’s gesture, she likely followed suite and likewise paid slight attention — until August, that is, when the entire Nation was focused on, and the entire Mississippi Coast was devastated by Camille, Hope’s namesake.
Thirty six years later, also in August, when naming hurricanes was a more rule-bound process, Katrina — nobody’s daughter, wife or girlfriend — ravaged the same Mississippi Coast, also causing calamitous and catastrophic destruction and disruption to society, to the economy, and to the ecology.
The origins, mechanics and behavior of a hurricane are well documented. It is chance — a long shot really — that all of the factors required actually do combine in time and place to spawn a mature hurricane. But when one does develop, as Sebastian Junger tells us in The Perfect Storm, you have the most powerful event on earth. He estimates that all the nuclear arsenals existing could not produce the energy required to keep one going for a day or two, that a typical hurricane can encompass over a million cubic miles of atmosphere, and could provide the electrical energy needed by the United States for three or four years.
I need these ponderous statistics for just a glimpse of understanding the havoc wreaked on human souls and property by Hurricanes Camille and Katrina. But many do not; the many who were there, and who suffered in 1969 and 2005.
So, a moment of pause to remember, to recognize,
Joe Goodell, 2015
Post Katrina photo licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to Google Images, Entrada a vivienda | www.flickr.com
Post Katrina Photo licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to Google Images, File:FEMA – 24956 – Photograph by Andrea Booher taken on 09-19-2005 in Mississippi