Remembering Hurricane Katrina in Photographs: A New Beginning, 2005
“Out with the old, in with the new” is not a bad saying by which to abide; but it can be quite unpleasant when it is forced upon you — and there is nothing you can do about it but forge ahead, as many of the victims of Hurricane Katrina had to do in 2005…
…but then again, it meant a new beginning.
In one ranch house, as much as a quarter inch of mud covered the floors in every room.
Despite flood levels as high as five feet, inexplicably none of these delicate breakables were moved from their precarious windowsill perch.
Pitchforks and shovels had to be used to remove much of the mud before the floors could be power-washed.
This is what the kitchen looked like after the floodwaters receded…
…and amazingly, somehow the floodwaters lifted the refrigerator and laid it down on the floor in a seemingly impossible position in an area between the oven and the kitchen sink. It was not easy removing the refrigerator from this position.
The kitchen sink was lifted up by floodwaters out of its foundation on the counter and was laid to rest at an angle.
These items almost seemed like a fine art painting to me.
Photographs — but not memories — lay ruined forever in the thick Mississippi mud on the floor in one bedroom after being forced out of storage by the floodwaters.
Barren moldy walls, hanging cables and broken window treatments are all that is left in this bedroom. The wallboard eventually had to be removed and replaced because of the mold.
One of the bathrooms was caked with black mud — some of it dried.
This is a reflection in a mirror of a homeowner reflecting on what to do next as part of the recovery effort of his home — and his life.
That is me on the right with the homeowner, committed to fighting the mud on the floors with power washing equipment. Despite no running water or electricity, a well and a pump powered by gasoline made this task possible.
At night, we either ate MREs — ready-to-eat meals which members of the military eat when on a mission — or we cooked on an outdoor grill illuminated either by a fire or an electric light powered by a battery. One night, we had hamburgers — but there was no ground beef to be found; so we had a choice of ground turkey hamburgers or vegetarian hamburgers. I had one of each. They could not compare to beef hamburgers; but on their own, they were not bad.
The venerable lighthouse — a landmark in Biloxi which stands in the middle of Beach Boulevard — suffered minor damage from the hurricane.
Comparatively speaking, not much was required to restore the famous lighthouse.
If nothing else as the sun set that day, one thing was for certain: the sun — as well as the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast — will rise again…
…and rise they did.
For more photographs and essays, please refer to the following articles in remembering Hurricane Katrina in photographs in 2005: