Blue Tarps and Bad Memories….

This weekend my husband pulled out the old blue tarps to cover the sides of the horse’s new, yet unfinished, stall. The bitterly cold north winds reached gusts of 35 mph, unusual for Mississippi even in the middle of winter.

The sight of these bright, blue eyesores brings on a flood of bad memories for any Mississippian that lived through the nightmare known as Hurricane Katrina. The blue tarp draped over a damaged roof became the unofficial symbol of suffering of South Mississippi. The further south you went the more blue roofs you saw. Even though I live several hours north of the towns of Gulfport and Biloxi, which were directly hit, we received 24 straight hours of 80-120 mph winds, coming in waves that would last hours on end, die down enough for you to venture out for a bit, only to start again from a different direction as the hurricane swirled over us.

The storm was scary enough, but the hardship had just begun. Three weeks without electricity and air conditioning in August in Mississippi is beyond miserable. There were no groceries on the shelves, no restaurants open, you could not even get ice. Thankfully, I had listened to the dire warnings and prepared for 10 days or so. The one thing no one thought about was the gasoline shortage that hit the area. Worries of ” do we have enough gas to get to a hospital if need be” lasted for weeks as well.

Clean-up was no fun either, we lost a barn, had significant roof damage and lost numerous large trees, one of which was a hundred year old oak.

But most of all, it is hard to see a blue tarp without thinking of all the lives lost during the storm. Our losses were trivial compared to what the people of the Mississippi Coast endured. A friend who was part of a mission effort that was on the ground within 24 hours tells of finding a barely clothed woman carrying a baby wandering around the obliterated streets, no home, no food, no family. There were horror stories of desperate 911 calls of people on the Coast who did not flee north and died as water rushed into their homes. I used to live in the Coastal town of Gulfport many years before Katrina and we are still uncertain of the fate of an elderly man my husband worked with who lived near the water.

Sorry to be so dark today, I will be glad when we can take the blue tarps down……

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