A dozen years ago today…

Twelve years ago at this moment, the Mississippi Gulf Coast was being erased by Katrina’s wrath. It was an era before social media, so here in Jackson, we weren’t totally aware of the devastation crashing ashore. Winds started picking up here and by noon, the storm was hitting the middle of the state. Power and trees went down. As I drove home at 1 p.m., two trees nearly crushed my car and an interstate sign flew off its posts toward me. A trip that normally takes me 30 minutes took an hour longer than that. We soon saw the apocalypse on the Coast. Casinos were on land and on homes. Death stung the senses. Landmarks were either rubble or swept out to sea. Anyone or any agency with a plan saw it washed away, too. Nightfall saw darkness, silence (except for hissing gas lines and an occasional cry for help) and misery. The cavalry wasn’t coming. Neighbor helped neighbor. The titanic task of recovery began.

The Biloxi lighthouse survived the storm and became a beacon of hope. I’ve never seen the scope of destruction I saw on the Coast. I pray I never do again.

This morning, we are watching an equally biblical disaster drown our friends in Texas and parts of Louisiana. Like every hurricane, Harvey came in with its own mix of lethality. With Katrina, it was storm surge and some wind. With Harvey, it will be primarily known for over four FEET of rain. Houston is swamped. Only 15% of the people there have flood insurance. America’s fourth largest city has been driven to its knees — and onto its rooftops.

Katrina survivors have a knot in their stomachs. They know the hell the Harvey survivors are about to go through. Red tape, cleanup and mental distress will wear the victims down.

I read someone trying to say one storm was worse than the other. That’s ridiculous. Every disaster is horrific if you are affected. Even if you have an EF-0 tornado rip your home’s roof off, your life has been altered. But there ARE common echoes between the storms. Good people helping friends and neighbors in need. Good people coming from hundreds of miles away to help just because it is the right thing to do. Good people making a horrible situation a little bit better.

Twelve years ago today, we experienced that in Mississippi. We were slapped up the side of our heads by Hell’s fury. But we made it through together.


Just like we are watching on our TVs this morning in Houston.


About Marshall Ramsey