When Katrina hit the gulf coast seven years ago, I felt sad for the people of the area. Sad, but I was able to change the channel on my television and move onto something else without much thought. It didn’t directly impact me in any way and I had my own issues going on at the time. I would watch the newscast, read the papers, say a prayer and go on about my day. It never really hit me on a personal level.
Fast forward to July 2010, my husband was at MOS school at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi. When I moved down to join him, I was shocked at the condition of the town. This was nearly 5 years later and the place still looked devastated in most areas. Buildings still boarded up like it had just been hit yesterday. People were walking the streets, now homeless and lost everything they had ever worked for. There were posts that used to support boardwalks and bridges standing lonely in the water going nowhere. Numerous construction projects that had been started before Katrina were now standing as still as a ghost town. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of people and businesses had bounced back. But this town and its people still needed help to get back to where it once was.
With all that said, I loved living in Mississippi. We lived in Gulfport within a two minute walk to the beach. Both my husband and I had lived on our own before, but this was the first time we felt truly independent. We were hundreds of miles away from any family or close friends. We explored the town and made it our own. I can’t tell you how many places soon felt like familiar haunts to us. It was as if the town just opened its arms and welcomed us. We would take off on long weekends and explore New Orleans or Pensacola. We made it our home.
Time seemed to fly by – I had my daughter in January of 2011, my husband finished up his schooling soon thereafter and it was time to move on. We got packed and loaded up and told ourselves that hopefully one day we could come back, maybe even settle there in the future. We moved on and settled in at Cherry Point and started over, making our house a home.
When I first heard of Isaac, I was hopeful that it would change tracks or weaken to just some heavy rain. Surely this wouldn’t destroy what these people had fought so hard to bring back! Then pictures from friends and news reports started rolling in. It was heartbreaking. It was personal this time. I had walked these streets, went to these restaurants, and met the people living in these houses. It got to the point I had to walk away, turn off the news and not log on Facebook for a while. I was devastated and I wasn’t even there. I was safe inside my own home.
That’s when I realized everything I had to be thankful for that I really had just taken for granted. It’s so easy to look away when it isn’t you that is hit by something tragic; be it a hurricane, a car wreck, a house fire… Most of us tend to rubber neck and look, but don’t move much beyond that. We each have our own problems going on and taking on someone else’s is too much to ask. I understand that, I really do. I do ask however that for a quick second you close your eyes and imagine what it would be like to lose everything you own, to work your butt off to restore and fix damage you didn’t even do. To feel so proud of yourself and the others around you, and then sadly have it destroyed again not long after. We tend to forget how good we have it sometimes. Count your blessings and be thankful for what you have, you never know how long you will have it or those around you.