|Broadwater Beach Hotel-Motel a Camille survivor.|
This fall Kathleen Koch was a Dillon Lecture Series Guest Speaker sharing her experience at reporting for CNN on the pain and destruction of Hurricane Katrina, as it sat for hours on end over the Mississippi gulf coast swirling it's 200 mile an hour winds and pounding punishing walls of water over the homes and landscapes of the coastal highway. Kathleen Koch's childhood home, Bay St. Louis, is just West of my landmarks, Gulfport to Biloxi, so I sat with great interest as she spoke of her experiences. I bought her book, and we spoke briefly about our shared memories.
Her descriptions of the how the people were plunged into the hurricane gripped my soul to the bones. (p.33)" A mile or so inland...the water had begun to rise around their clapboard house. With each guest, the wind rocked the structure, every joint creaking and groaning as though it was about to go. As they huddled together on her bed, Shannon watched a crack start in the wall by the window. It grew as the storm raged, snaking like a living thing across the room to the roof."
Kathleen and her CNN team waited out the winds in a hotel in Mobile, when at last the storm's destructive Northeast quadrant had passed they loaded their vehicle and headed west on I-10. (p.59) "Hoping to find a route west, we drove south to the beach road but got no farther. An enormous wall of more than fifty crumpled truck trailers from the adjoining port blocked all four lanes of Highway 90, the road I used to drive to work every day." Pictures before and after are sprinkled throughout her painful personal descriptions. I felt the lose of each life, as if I'd known the people.
What makes her book the BEST I've read on recovery and personal passion is simply the resolute stalwart caring people of Bay St. Louis. They did not wait on the government to help; they did not stand in long lines signing up for government help; they did not complain; they went to work and helped themselves pick up the pieces.