(fyi - the pics in this post are from two years ago. as it was dark when i got to biloxi, i didn't get any pics on this trip)

this is how most of biloxi, mississippi looked about two years ago. i was in biloxi with a group of seminarians about 6 months after the hurricanes hit, and the only words i could use to describe the ENTIRE city, were "utter devastation". it was unlike anything i had ever seen. an ENTIRE city basically destroyed. it was an intense experience, filled with lots of stories of tragedy from folks who lost their homes. so on this trip, i was very interested in driving through biloxi to see what progress had been made over the last two years. when i was first there, i was initially appalled by how little seemed to have been done in those first 6 months after the hurricane. so on this trip, i was a bit skeptical as to what the city might look like after two more years.

my goal (obviously) was to get into town during daylight in order to SEE, but that didn't quite happen on the day-after-saint-patrick's-day. so i got into biloxi JUST as it was getting dark. but nonetheless, i was able to find my way back into the city, exactly as we had gone in two years ago. i remember first driving into the city on my previous trip, entering a main street in town that had no signs left, and traffic lights uprooted and toppled over. upon turning onto this same street two years later, it felt like a new and fresh place - lights and signs were resurrected. but my mind was on the houses - the houses that had been so completely devasted after the hurricane. i wanted to see the houses. i got a few blocks down the main road, and turned right into the city. now, while i thought it might be a disadvantage to be in biloxi when it was dark, i quickly found that i was seeing lights on in houses...what an obvious way to see whether or not houses had been repaired and re-inhabited. and to my surprise, LOTS of lights were on in houses. even in the more-devastated southeast area of the city (see below)...
houses had been rebuilt - and a lot of them even rebuilt on STILTS. i was really impressed. i could see that hope was prevailing here in biloxi. even the biloxi bay bridge that had been largely destroyed (see below)...
had been rebuilt. i didn't see it for myself, but got to talking with a local guy, tyson, where i had dinner. he had been there during the hurricanes and was telling me about the progress of the area. i wanted to find some authentic southern place for dinner - so i ended up at Doughboy's Pizza and Po'Boys. and if you've never had a po'boy, you've bever been to louisiana or mississippi. good stuff. and cool to connect with tyson. the more i experience things like this, the more i'm convinced that we need to get outside our church buildings more often.

it was an encouraging stop - even with the very big and brand-new casinos looming over the recovering city. there's something just not right about that. but still, i was encouraged. and i know that it's largely due to groups like PDA and the Red Cross and Samaritan's Purse that have beeen making huge headway in the recovery effort. especially PDA, which is a branch of the Presbyterian Church USA - they have made a long-term committment to being down in LA and MS to keep on with the rebuilding. that's impressive to me...and gives me hope.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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