Skip to comments.Mississippi Gulf Coast Reeling from Hurricane Katrina From Ground Zero
Posted on 09/03/2005 12:14:55 PM PDT by Cedar
Mississippi Gulf Coast Reeling from Hurricane Katrina From Ground Zero
By Keith Burton Gulf Coast News Publisher
This is not going to be your regular news story. There are a lot of reasons for this. The first is that I am as much a part of the staggering story of Hurricane Katrina as the hundreds of thousands of people all along the northern Gulf Coast whose lives have been changed forever by this storm. After all, I live here too.
You cannot believe how difficult conditions are here and how frightening our immediate future is. This story will also be different because of how GCN is getting this to you. You have to know that communications, telephones, Internet and cells phones are not working, or working only marginally at the time of this report.
After great effort we have managed to get online, but we still need help and we are not sure even our current efforts will work long.
I have to thank GCN acting editor Perry Hicks, who is based in Virginia for relaying information from me to get some information out from Biloxi. And I want to thank my brother, Ken Burton, who is in Colorado Springs for engineering the GCN Survivor Connector Database to help people find the status loved ones impacted from the storm.
Many of you have already seen the videos and news stories from the national media. I can tell you that aerial photography, as graphic as it is, in no way shows the true story from the ground. I struggle to find the words. The faces of friends, and family, the hollow fearful eyes as Coast residents, long experienced with hurricanes, know that this is a life changing event.
I have to thank God that my home and the homes of my brother and parents survived. But that doesnt mean in any way that we dont have major work ahead of us. Like thousands on the Coast, our days since the storm has been filled with trying to clear downed trees from our roofs and making makeshift repairs to protect our property. The amount of debris from trees is staggering.
Imagine every tree and bush from a lush semi-tropical environment stripped of the green of life and dumped limp and lifeless. It is as if winter in the coldest states suddenly came overnight, yet temperatures are still in the upper 90s. It is the heat and humidity that is so debilitating, which brings up a major point of survival here - Water!
Wednesday, the first distribution of water began to be seen. With just three days since the storm, that sounds pretty quick, but keep in mind that the high temperatures mean you go through water fast.
The national news media has given you the big picture on how the Federal and State governments are responding and the news has been bad on that front with widespread criticism. But people just dont appreciate the scale of what has happened, and how hard it is just to begin to help.
First, just getting around is extremely difficult. Trees are down everywhere, especially in neighborhoods where people actually live. The news media generally talk about cities as if their downtowns was where everyone lived. But it is in the subdivisions and neighborhoods that Hurricane Katrina ruined lives and dreams.
Concerns over how badly Katrina tore into families and how shook people are is that officials have not released death figures. It will be shocking. One person who I know that is working on the recovery of bodies said that the teams are not being informed of the totals.
If the word chaos describes confusion, than Katrina may find itself another word for the same. It is now four days since the storm and communications are still nearly impossible. This is for residents and officials alike. It would be wrong at this point, however, to blame public officials for the problems that they are having with getting the help to the ground. The communication system on the Coast suffered tremendous damage and no effort of the scale that is needed can move quickly without communications. A lot of work on lines and telephone poles is underway, but we are talking miles and miles of line and thousands of repairs. Bell South and Mississippi Power are working as hard as possible.
There is some water flowing into homes and apartments at this time. The pressure is extremely low, and not enough to fight a fire with, but it will fill up a toilet tank. It doesnt take long to realize that the simplest necessities of life make really big differences.
The lack of gasoline has largely stopped the sightseeing and frivolous driving that initially clogged the few streets that were opened shortly after Katrina. For the brave folks that have gone on gasoline runs, they report they have to go more than 150 miles just to find a few gallons as restrictions are in effect.
The result is people cannot risk driving much. This is a major issue because even if food, water and medical distribution centers are set up, people cant get there.
Just last night, Long Beach police and city vehicles were out of fuel. The citys employees were scrambling for fuel in school buses and wherever they could find it. The hundreds of emergency service workers are finding that once they get here, there are only a few places they can get fuel and those places are running out. If the fuel issue is not resolved within two or three days, the situation on the Mississippi Coast will become extremely dangerous.
I will update you more soon.
And here's an additional update by Keith Burton:
General News Update
By Perry Hicks- Filed 9/1/05
Updated 9/3/05 Keith Burton
Keith Burton reports from Biloxi that a massive relief effort is underway to arrive in Coast are by this weekend.
Highway 49- open
Pass Road- Open
Highway 90- impassible at any point in Harrison and Hancock Counties. Open in Jackson County.
Interstate 110 bridge- open
Travel Note: Due to the high number of debris along the Coast's roads, tire failures are very possible. All travel to the beach and areas south of the railroad tracks is restricted or prohibited. I-10 is open east to Mobile. Highway 49 is open to areas north.
Utilities - Power is out coastwide and telephones service is intermittent or non-existent to many homes due to trees on lines. Phone service is improving daily but calling into the Coast area is expected to be difficult, calling out sometimes works. Service for cell phones is also improving since the storm but calls within the area and long distance are inconsistent. Water service is at a bare minimum and the is not drinkable anywhere on the Coast. The pressure is very low due to the open pipes from destroyed homes and businesses. Sewage facilities non-functioning due to low water pressure, no power and proximity to the heavily damaged shoreline. Raw sewage is entering the surrounding Coast waters. Lift stations to pump sewage is offline due to flooding damages and lack of electrical power.
Local area gasoline currently not available.
Biloxi/Gulfport - Catastrophic damages to entire beachfront. Entire Point Cadet area from around Lee Street east leveled. Back Bay shoreline homes and businesses destroyed or severely damaged on both the Biloxi peninsula and along Back Bay. Numerous buildings well inland destroyed or severely damaged. Gulfport port leveled. All casinos severely damaged. Numerous apartments damaged from wind. Neighborhoods throughout the Coast that didn't suffer from the storm surge experienced very heavy damages from wind and falling trees. Beachfront hotels, restaurants, shops, homes...gone. Highway 90, the beachfront highway. Severely washed out and unpassable. Popps Ferry Bridge in Biloxi unusable. Highway 90 Bridge from Biloxi to Ocean Springs destroyed. I-110 bridge ok.
D'Iberville - Homes and businesses immediately along the Back Bay destroyed by storm surge. The destruction follows a line east and west from the I-110 exit to D'Iberville.
Long Beach- Beachfront and business district through Jefferson Davis Avenue largely destroyed. K-Mart destroyed.
Bay Saint Louis- Old town and beach front homes heavily damaged or destroyed from storm surge and high winds. Interior neighborhoods severely damaged from high winds and fallen tree. Highway 90 Bay St. Louis Bridge from Pass Christian destroyed.
Picayune- Heavy wind and tree damage
Popularville- Heavy wind and tree damage
Pascagoula- Interior in pretty good shape and city trying to restore services. Coastal areas heavily damaged by storm surge. Downtown was flooded, but waters have receded.
Gautier - Destruction of homes and businesses south of Highway 90 near a large section of low-lying land along the shore. Heavy wind and tree damage.
Ocean Springs - Destruction of beachfront and bayou area homes and apartments, heavy wind damages,
Pass Christian - Severe damages from storm surge and winds. Beachfront homes destroyed or severely damaged. Downtown area in ruins. Homes along bayous floods and severely damaged or destroyed.
Wiggins - Heavy wind and tree damages. Power failure from winds and fallen trees.
Hattiesburg - Heavy wind and tree damages.
GCN will update as information is available.
I thought only New Orleans was hit...(s)
and glad to hear that you are ok.
Despite what criticism it may get the issue of living right up on the beach etc in areas prone to hurricanes has to be examined
It will only get worse with passing time if they keep building and expanding in these areas
That goes for all the FL coasts then too.
What about people living in the fault zones? Or Tornado alley, or blizzard country, or places with high heat.....
No place on the planet is immune from nature's wrath.
Mississippi ping to every body except
bourbon,war daddy ,onyx and Travis Mcgee
See #4 :>)
Marking place. Do you know how much catch up reading I have to do...llol?
First post I've seen by you! How was it?
Do you know how much catch up reading I have to do...llol?
Hurry up and get to the non squiter thread
so can get mad or LYAO which ever you chose.
It's pretty clear that hurricane frequency comes and goes in about a 20 year cycle, and we're now on an up-cycle. Throw up a graph of the population increase in the last few generations in the hurricane prone areas, and it's easy to see what's going to happen.
Increased coastal population density + increased hurricanes = major problems.
Windy... flying limbs, branches and even some huge trees were downed, and we were only hit with the outer band (I think).
The aftermath was (and is) worse. No power, no phone, no tv, no lights, no a/c, no computer for such a long time, and now my perfect little town is chaotic... gas lines, empty grocery shelves and a lot more cars and people.
And that's total BS on the part of the "officials". During the tsunami we received a running estimate of the death toll: 20,000 - 50,000 - 85,000 - 110,000 - and finally 250,000, which helped to bring home the true scale of the disaster. There are still a lot of Americans who think: Katrina weakened before landfall - New Orleans "dodged a bullet", though there is a lot of water in the suburbs - some place in Mississippi got hit, too - but only about 110 people are dead.
Tell the truth. Always. The government and the media don't help matters when they treat the public like children that need to be sheltered from bad news. In the case of the media, it's partly understandable - an accurate death toll estimate might shock the nation into wondering why they are wasting so much time bashing Bush.
Onyx, is there anything your FR friends can do to help?
Thanks Peach, but we're fine. Had the yard cleaned up and now we can go bck to unpacking, and hopefully put an end to this nightmare camping trip from hell...lol.
I know the grocery stores are nearly empty; if you need food, let us know and we'll send some to you since I think you're getting mail(?).
FEMA briefing coming up any minute.
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