WAVELAND – For most people, a hurricane is nothing more than a white swirl on the radar screen.
For the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, after Katrina hit five years ago, that swirl meant death, destruction, misery and days of fighting mosquitoes and mud, downed trees and mustering up the sheer willpower to survive.
Today, the effects remain, especially in the little town of Waveland.
A church rebuilds
Pontotoc Countians responded in a huge way to Waveland and they still help.
Last weekend, a group of 20 with tables and chairs and food traveled to a little church called Lakeshore Baptist Church, which is barely two blocks north from the ocean.
The church building was washed away in Katrina’s wrath but the tiny congregation of 40 to 60 people went back to the slab that was left and began ministering. They continue to feed and clothe 500 people in the Bay St. Louis and Waveland area.
After the oil spill this summer, their supplies were dangerously depleted so they put out a call for help. People across Pontotoc County responded with food, clothes, beds and three sets of tables and chairs. These goods were carried to the Coast in two trailers and delivered to the church, which is operating a relief center out of tents and small buildings.
Bea Everette has been attending Lakeshore Baptist in Waveland since 1952, which means she lived through Camille in 1969 and Katrina in 2005.
“We didn’t lose everything in Camille, but Katrina wiped everybody out,” she said.
Camille roared ashore more in the Gulfport-Biloxi area. However, the eye of Katrina passed right over Waveland.
“With Camille we had four feet of water, while Katrina held 22 feet,” Everette said.
Fast forward five years
And though five years have passed, Everette said there are still people who are not back in their homes.
“I am amazed at how many people are still living in tents. They send their children on bicycles after food,” she said.
The team members that went down to Waveland carried a table and chairs and beds to a family that moved into their home two weeks ago. Kelly Morden smiled as the beds were unloaded.
“Now my babies won’t have to sleep on the floor,” she said. After Katrina washed their home away the family was able to secure a FEMA trailer, “but that was taken away when Gustav came through (September 2006.)”
Morden said the family moved into the shed and began building their home from the ground up.
REGINA BUTLER / Pontotoc Progress