Greetings from Biloxi Redux
I’m back in Biloxi with Handson again.
I will have more to report tomorrow (I only got in about 5PM today), but a fast first look finds that the city has come a long ways, but has an equally distant wayS to go.
While some casinos are opening up and businesses are getting back to something approaching normal operations, street lights, signs, and downed trees still litter the region and scores of thousands of peoples’ homes are either gone or uninhabitable.
A simple example of what the city is like now: upon arrival I did the exact same run I did in early October. Indeed I was shocked at how vivid the memory of the run was! Even in the dark, the course was seared into my mind. I remembered the house where the lady was hanging a blue tarp and who had been so gracious when offered a hand. The house is still there. So is the blue tote.
On the run I was struck by the large number of FEMA trailers even in the section of town that I thought had not been hit too severely. Also surprising, even though I know groups, inculiding Handson helped with some of teh decorations, was the large number of Christmas decorations hanging on many of the damaged homes and trailers. It is almost as if it was the owners' way of saying: you can destroy our homes, take our valuables, and even kill some of our friends and neighbors, but you can not take away our spirit.
At Handson, the people, although largely different than in October, are still as nice. Again as I said before, almost “too nice.” They can’t really be as caring, kind, and considerate, can they? In every one of my dealings so far, it sure seems that they are.
The work has changed some. Mold abatement has replaced tree removal and gutting as the “cool” jobs. Work is being done on so-called lower priority jobs such as street clean-up and cemetery fix-ups. These are obviously important quality of life jobs, but are not the first things one would do after a catastrophe.
In a way, Biloxi is responding like a sick patient who is getting better, but that you can still tell is no where near back to normal. And remember, I only saw the parts of town that were least heavily damaged. Over the course of the next week I will report from some of the more severely affected areas.
*The view from the plane on the way in showed much damage still exists in surrounding areas. I tried taking pictures but to not think they turned out
*Overall, any fear that there would not be enough work for our March trip has been driven far from consciousness. Indeed, the idea of another fall or summer trip has arisen. But one thing at a time. March comes first.
*Dinner was lasagna, salad, garlic bread, and corn.
*It was in the upper 60s when I ran at 6pm.
*Handson has more people now than in October. I would guess 100? Darius gave an interesting talk on the history and future of Handson after the nightly meeting. He laid to rest most of the concerns people have been having about HandsonNetwork. It seems like a great match and there should be some real synergies.
*On Saturday, Jen and I plan on working with the Humane Society in the AM and then on the cemetery clean up/fix up in the afternoon (the mold crew was filled)
*The internet hook-up is still frustratingly slow.
*Closed circuit for Suzanne: I brought my own orange juice this time ;)