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Friday, September 02, 2005

Diamondhead first-person report 

Here is Jimmie Brewer's first-person account of his exploration of Diamondhead: The gated community of close to 9,000 residents is a scene of almost complete devastation. Neighbors are sharing generators, accounting for people and belongings as they can. Through the heart of the north side, previously unnoticed sloughs and drains carried storm surge from the Jourdan River into houses thought safe from Mother Nature's fury. They weren't. Not a building stands in that area. Clothes are hung, seemingly to dry, in the top of what is left of once-towering trees. Appliances, furniture and other household belongings are scattered here and yon. Watermarks on the few remaining structures show a surge light higher than the doorways. To the south, a sheriff's department employee told me about pullng 15 bodies from homes on the south side of I-10. Waves crashed over the interstate, destroying almost everything in their path. To the north of the highway, Ramada Inn is heavily damaged, but people are still in it. The yacht club looks like a gazebo. At the Holiday Inn on Highway 603, people are still on the second floor. The water reached that floor. On the first floor, people had to break windows to remove occupants trapped as water curled carpets against doors. A man, who declined to give his name, who lives about a mile from the inn, left his house by boat. He and his sone dragged nine people with them to higher ground. He got to the KMart parking lot across the street from the Holiday Inn on 5-foot seas. He didn't realize until the next day that there were cars in the parking lot. He unloaded his passengers on the second-floor balcony of the motel. The opposite side of U.S. 90 is a tent city. People need medicine and are desparate for information. There are dozens of shoeless children standing about. At least a half dozen of the people I talked to were cloaked in mud from head to toe. They didn't ask for water, or food, or anything other than a Sun Herald. One woman along 603 had a small dog in one and and a Wal-Mart bag in the other with what appeared to be all her belongings in it. She just stood there crying. It is an image I'll carry with me forever. Brewer is a past director of Diamondhead Business and Professional Association. He works in Special Projects for the Sun Herald.

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Don Hammack

Don Hammack is a staff writer for the Sun Herald. He can be reached at KatrinaSunHerald@aol.com.

Sara Greer

Sara Greer is a news assistant for the Sun Herald.


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