As Rita Looms, Mississippi Fears Being Forgotten | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

As Rita Looms, Mississippi Fears Being Forgotten

Knight-Ridder is reporting:

As Hurricane Rita threatens the Texas coast, the people in southern Mississippi are facing a new kind of fear and misery: that of feeling forgotten. Here, a huge and jagged chunk of the coast is gone. Homes and jobs, too. Much of the national conversation remains focused on the famous city 90 miles away that dodged the hurricane but fell to an epic flood caused by a broken levee and generations of bad decisions.

Katrina's destruction:
Three weeks after the storm, Hurricane Katrina's wretched portrait is emerging in the numbers from Mississippi:

• 219 are dead statewide, 164 in coastal counties. Officials believe that those numbers are underreported and that more bodies will be uncovered as large amounts of debris are removed.

• Of the 171,000 dwellings in the area, more than 65,100 homes, or 38 percent, are destroyed and 38,000 sustained major damage.

• With governments gone or operating from makeshift city halls, and much of the tax base now in woodpiles along the roadways, the future of up to four coastal cities is tentative. Two cities -- Waveland and Bay St. Louis, clobbered more than most -- are talking about merging, perhaps as the new "Bayland.''

• All 12 casinos, with a collective payroll of 17,000 employees, are gutted and closed for business. In Biloxi, casinos poured $22 million into the city, school and public-safety departments last year.

• More than 382,000 of Katrina's Mississippi victims have registered for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. More than $300 million has been paid out.

"I am not sure the nation knows just how bad it is in Mississippi,'' said Pat Smith, a professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Had New Orleans not flooded, Katrina still would have been a near-mythic storm comparable to Hurricane Andrew, which leveled swaths of South Florida.

Previous Comments


Read this story in today's Sunday newspaper from Biloxi: This gives a chronology of events, before and after Katrina's landfall, as told by MEMA head, Latham [Robert?] I will have more comments later probably, but for now I ask: Why didn't our fabulous leader, Gov. Haley Barbour hold a televised news conference BEFORE Katrina to warn Mississippi gulf coast residents to evacutate? (Even local television would have carried his warnings live, with questions.) Where was Haley? I have my own ideas about that. But read the article, and you will learn that on Saturday, August 27th, Max Mayfield of the National Hurricane Center in Miami telephoned Barbour personally to warn him that Katrina would be like Camillle!! How many Mississippians live on the gulf coast? Too few to care about? On Saturday, August 27th, and Sunday, August 28th- Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco held nationally televised press conferences to order evacuations from New Oleans and the other affected parishes. She appeared on CNN with the head of LA National Guard, the head of LA State Police, the head of Dept. of Transportation, and the mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin . . . Where was Mississippi's governor?


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