When Hurricane Katrina made landfall in 2005, many people around the world believed, and continue to believe, that it made landfall in Louisiana. More specifically that it made landfall over New Orleans, Louisiana. A fact that seems more realistic when Obama plans to take to New Orleans to visit on the five year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Unfortunately, the hurricane made landfall east of New Orleans and hit smaller cities and towns in East Louisiana and Coastal Mississippi. This fact is not lost on the coastal residents of Mississippi, who are becoming more vocal in their displeasure of the spotlight on Katrina recovery being placed on New Orleans.
One such voice is that of General Manager, David Vincent, of WLOX-TV, an ABC affiliate, in Biloxi, Mississippi. In an open forum message to the President, he has asked “you’re spending your time in New Orleans and not Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Gulfport, Biloxi, D’Iberville, Ocean Springs, Gautier, Moss Point or Pascagoula. Those are the cities that got torn apart by Katrina’s winds and her storm surge, and not by a manmade mistake.” The entire letter can be found here.
The statement is an editorial on behalf of the team at WLOX, but it continues to be a voice echoed throughout South Mississippi. This statement, originally posted on Aug 17, but revised on Aug 23, had 53 comments, most, but not all, in support, as well as over 200 “likes” on Facebook. Speak to some of the residents who survived the storm and you can see the frustration in their eyes as you ask about New Orleans.
There is no hate for the city, which holds their beloved Saints, but rather a frustration that the rest of the nation, and world, thinks that the storm only struck New Orleans. As pieces of the economy were rebuilt in South Mississippi, the transformation is staggering. The complete devastation along U.S. Highway 90 were enough to make any former visitor take notice. Some of the most drastic images were of those showing the Treasure Bay Casino washed ashore in Biloxi. At the time of the storm, casinos had to be over water, and the large barges that they sat on all came ashore.
Today, the recovery that was, and is, in progress seems muted on the back drop of the oil spill. Fishermen are returning to work, but the recovery just feels slower, especially to those just getting back on their feet after Katrina. The casinos are busy, though a bit slower than their hey-day. Through it all, South Mississippians just want to be recognized for their sacrifices, fortitude and determination in overcoming the obstacles that seem to continually come at them. And shouldn’t that be the highlight of the anniversary, not political pandering to the major cities?