This year many of us in south Mississippi are thinking back to Aug. 29, 2005. It was a day that changed our lives forever. And five years later, as we look around and see how far we have come in recovering from Hurricane Katrina, the nation’s worst natural disaster, our world comes tumbling down again.
Maybe our homes and lives are still intact after the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Transocean Deepwater Horizon – BP oil rig off the coast of Louisiana, but many of the things we care deeply about are slowly being destroyed.
Eleven lives lost. Eleven families destroyed. Yet those lives have been trivialized in the face of what may be considered the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Our Gulf waters, our fish and wildlife, our beaches — all enveloped in a thick swirl of oil.
Slow, tortuous strangulation.
But the worst of the disaster is not what is on the outside, but what lies beneath the surface — just like the oil.
It is still hard to talk about Hurricane Katrina without tears. It is still hard to think back on the devastation. Brutal, horrifying images still haunt many of us.
To strangers who never saw the Mississippi coast before the storm, it looks pretty good. Yes, there is road construction and building development going on, but isn’t that a fact of life everywhere?
To us, we look around as we drive by and think about how nice things are coming together, or how well (or not so well) the new things blend with the old.
We try not to think of what was there in a new building’s place. We try hard not to think of what we have lost because it is too depressing.
And, on other days, we struggle to remember what used to be there, as our memories slowly fade.
Now, as the fifth anniversary of Katrina approaches, we are knocked back down again.