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Eyes on Katrina

A South Mississippi hurricane journal

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Coastal Flooding in Northern Kentucky, an essay 

Gene Gunn Oswalt is coping with this stuff from Park Hills, Ky. Katrina's got a huge chunk of the U.S. soaked and scared. Here's his essay: There are flood watches in effect in the Ohio and Miami River Valleys, not just from the remains of Katrina. I weep for you, my Gulf Coast, with unending tears. When people ask, "Is that a faint southern accent? You aren't from here, are you?" The answer is always proudly the same, "I'm from the Mississippi Coast." My husband and I live in Park Hills, Kentucky, just 2 miles shy of downtown Cincinnati. Although I've been away from Mississippi for many years, Home is the coast. After all, Home is where you are From. I grew up in Moss Point with parents who were from Biloxi; my grandparents were in Ocean Springs, and I had aunts and uncles in Biloxi and Gulfport. Where is Home? For me, it is the whole coast. When we go Home, there is always a certain routine, particularly eating: McElroy's for fried shrimp and seafood platters; the place that used to be Rosetti's, where you could still get a po-boy (dressed or undressed) and a Barq’s in a bottle; gumbo at Mary Mahoney's; chilicheeseburgers at Edd's in Pascagoula. The routine always includes time for a walk along the water–a visit to the small craft harbor—either in Biloxi or Ocean Springs, and time to sit and watch the shrimp boats as they return for the day. As coast natives, we seem to measure time by storms. I was 8 when Camille hit, on my parents' 25th anniversary. I remember countless tropical storms that blew in, the depressions and "little" hurricanes that made us somehow more resilient, or at least resistant to yard work. I started college the day Frederic landed, and saw a friend's picture amid devastation on the front of the New York Times—the first version of that paper I had ever seen. My husband and I bought our first home on the South Carolina coast, and had Hugo hit shortly thereafter. Even after all that, I know little of the pain you are going through. Today communications are scarce. As each hour passes by, we cling to the latest Internet images—waiting to see one more picture of our Coast. I see the pictures you cannot, hear the news, and feel helpless. I see the devastation, and can do nothing but weep. I weep for my brother who has lost his home in Ocean Springs, for my aunt and uncle who spent years renovating an old mansion in Long Beach, and for my best friend from high school who lived around the corner from them. I see the aerial pictures, and pray that you are elsewhere -- alive. I weep for great memories, of playing on the beach, of running down the pier at the old Biloxi Yacht Club; of caroling along the big beach houses with my cousins. I weep for the summer days my mother would suggest, "Want to go for a ride down the Coast?" That meant we visited my Biloxi or Gulfport cousins, had something great to eat, walked along the beach and stopped by my grandparents for a "Co-Cola" on the way home. I weep for po-boys, and walks amid the boats, and most of all, I weep with all of you for the Coast we all love. My Midwestern colleagues are sympathetic, but they just don’t understand. Thank you.

This person FEELS so bad for those unfortunate souls HE LEFT BEHIND when moving to near Cincy. Too bad about the rest of his family, friends and Gulf Coast citizens. Why do people stay in areas where it is prone to Hurricanes? Do they like the possibility of dieing and/or rebuilding every 3, 4, 5 or so years? It's stupid. Get the heck out! Live elsewhere. It can be done. Or stay & take your chances. Do I feel sorry for these victims? Sure. Do I pain for them? No. It was their choice to live there. In between storms, they have a very nice life. Take your pick. A short, nice life, then maybe death? Or, a long, fairly pleasant life, elsewhere.
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Don Hammack

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

Sara Greer

Sara Greer is a news assistant for the Sun Herald.

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