When I was asked to write this diary for the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I took the time to go back and read my other diaries through the first two years. I was amazed at what has been accomplished since then.
I am now in a new house and have been since December 2006. It is a joy to be blessed as I am with this new home, and just about everything inside is new. I have never had a dishwasher or a garbage disposal, but now I do. I don't even mind getting out in the heat we have been having and cutting the grass. It is a pleasure to have grass to cut. I have a utility room with a real washer and dryer (not the stackable kind), and a small freezer. I have been so blessed that I had the hundreds of volunteers from Lagniappe Church come and build my house for me. And I am blessed that Bill LeBlanc, my next door neighbor, gave of his time and work to draw up my plans, to assist the volunteers and me in making this house a reality.
We still have no grocery store here in Bay St. Louis or Waveland. Yes, we can now cross the beautiful new bridge that opened May 17, 2007, and drive 30 minutes to grocery stores in Long Beach or farther to Gulfport. Or we can drive up to Diamondhead, about 20 minutes away, and go to their grocery store. But we still do not have one ourselves. We do appreciate the hard work that Ray Cox, manager at Wal-Mart, has done to assure that we have the things we need. They have been such wonderful corporate citizens and continue to be. Little convenience and meat markets have popped up and they are also wonderful. But, somehow, it just isn't the same as having a real grocery store here.
The devastation here is still around. Now you see lots that were wiped clean by Katrina all grown up with weeds. People are coming back, but not as fast as we would like them to come back. The insurance issue is still very raw. Some people, especially on the beach, cannot even get insurance, and if they do it is at an astronomical price. State Farm has announced that they will not write any insurance for those living within 2,500 feet of the water. So what are people supposed to do? If you are reading this from outside Mississippi, please let your congressional representatives know how important the all-peril insurance bill is. This insurance will be included with the National Flood Program. The insurance companies don't want the bill to pass, because it will affect their bottom line, while just this week I heard they are making billions in profits.
Finally, please do not forget us. We still need help here. Many people do not have the wherewithal to rebuild their homes. Many have now received the Katrina cottages. They are really cute and a lot better than the FEMA trailer I lived in for 14 months. But many still live in FEMA trailers and want to rebuild. Prices for building materials are sky high and contractor fraud is rampant.
Progress is slow, very slow. The beach road from the bridge to Washington Street is only temporary and the bid has not been let to build the new beach road, along with the seawall. Many old buildings are gone, never to return. This is hard for those of us who were born here and have been here all our lives. The landmarks are gone. But we are ready for a new town. Its coming is just very slow and seems to be dragging.
As I have said before, we are a strong and resilient people. We will make it through this, but it will take years. When Hurricane Camille hit here in 1969, it took about seven years to get back. This time, it will take us 10 to 15 years.
So, please remember us. Come volunteer. And pray for us.
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