|The Katrina Memorial includes a list of those who died.|
|The Katrina Memorial in Biloxi|
|Driveways without homes|
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:2-3 (NIV)
We arrived home safely with no difficulties and even picked my purse up with nothing missing from the McDonalds safe. It was good to be home. Despite heavy rains while we were gone, everything is as we left it. Well, almost everything. The dog sitter, who stayed at the house, was surprised by our early return and had not yet gotten around to cleaning up from the party he threw in our absence. Still, despite sandy floors, dishes in the sink, and empty pizza boxes on the countertops, I am grateful to have a house. One of the images that sticks with me from my time in Mississippi, are the remnants of Hurricane Katrina. You can see the storm’s effects in many places, but most strongly in Biloxi. As you drive US90 along the coast, there are driveways that lead to no houses. Mailboxes with no one home to retrieve the mail. While some houses have been rebuilt, many people have chosen to live elsewhere. There are wide stretches of vacant land punctuated by fire hydrants, foundation stones or concrete steps that lead to nowhere. Pilings extending into the bayous and Gulf are all that is left of docks. Islands are stripped of trees and new channels cut among them. New bridges and roads speak to the devastating effect of the storm on transportation. The beaches have been replenished, but seawall lined large harbors where floating casinos once were moored are also empty. Hotels, bereft of windows and roofs, stand like something from a war zone. We stopped at the Katrina Memorial that was constructed by the Extreme Home Makeover television show. It was a tall concrete wall with mosaics that visually remind of the twelve foot height of the wave that washed over the area. In a glass enclosure were items found after the storm, toys, flags, war medals, trophies, photographs and household items. Memories of people’s lives that may or may not still be alive. Living on a barrier island that could easily be wiped out in a similar fashion, the memorial was haunting. But, another type of memorial spoke of hope. A man, who sculpts with a chain saw, came to the Gulf Coast and from Ocean Springs to Gulfport carved sculptures out of the oak trees that were broken and killed by the storm. Marine life such as whales, seashores and dolphins, and birds like eagles and osprey stand watch along the water’s edge. While that storm destroyed much of the Gulf Coast seven years ago, the people are resolute and determined to move forward. Yes, we could see places that will never be the same again. But, out of the wreckage, comes survival and even more, beauty.