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Reflecting on Katrina

A year has passed, and Hurricane Katrina is once again all over the news. It was one of the worst disasters in American history, compounded by one of the worst governmental responses to a disaster in American history.

I guess to most news agencies, those facts justify the coverage this anniversary continues to receive. That's not what makes the reminders personal to me, though.

The fact that families, homes and even complete neighborhoods are still displaced to this day gives ample reason for the coverage. People are still rebuilding an entire year later, and have not even made a dent in the recovery effort as a whole.

That is a frightening prospect for the millions of lives that were thrown into disarray by this massive force of nature. Despite the current relatively calm tropical season, the threat of another storm dismantling a year's accomplishments looms large.

My sense of awareness to this harsh reality has been heightened since my visit to Pascagoula, Miss., last October. The devastation was immense nearly 100 miles from where the storm's center came ashore.

I was able to visit with friends who live in Pascagoula while covering a group from Thomson First Baptist that helped in the rebuilding effort. My friends Laurie and Cameron are slowly but surely rebuilding their home that was inundated by four feet of water.

Between both of their jobs and the work they do with their church's youth group, what little free time they do have is spent sheet rocking and battling mold. And they're some of the lucky ones. They purchased the special flood insurance, so their damage was covered.

It seems, though, that even a year later, my friends are not much closer to moving out of their FEMA trailer and back into their home. I can't even imagine how that must feel for them and so many others that may have it worse than they do.

The damage in dollars from Katrina has dwarfed the count from 1992's Andrew, the previous most expensive hurricane in U.S. history. The total is still rising as people continue to rebuild.

But total numbers don't impress me as much as knowing the overwhelming difficulty that just one family is enduring. I hope that a year from now my friends will no longer see a daily reminder of the storm that ruined so many lives just by looking out their window.

In that same vein, though, I hope those on the Gulf coast never forget the powerful punch that Mother Nature can pack in such a short time. No one in that area thought 1969's Hurricane Camille could be topped.

They were wrong. Let's pray that line of thought turns out to be true about Katrina.

Web posted on Thursday, August 31, 2006

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