We spent the day driving out from under the footprint of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I did not take any more photographs. You've seen it all on TV. A steady stream of new, white, unmarked FEMA trailers passed us going west, headed toward New Orleans we assume. It's amazing that six months after the hurricanes, new trailers are still arriving. In Louisiana the expressway veered far north of the gulf and things looked normal, but in Mississippi we passed one FEMA campground after another within ten miles of the water. The trailers these folks are living in do not hold a candle to ours. They have no slide outs, so their living space is shoe box in dimension and they have few windows. Their campgrounds are stark parking lots, far from towns and amenities. They provide a place to sleep, but then what?
The bill boards along the expressway presented an especially dramatic view of the storm's power. They were large metal structures with the circumference of mature trees, but they were twisted and in some cases snapped in two. Someof the road signs still had panels missing. The direction signs for the coastal state parks and beaches had CLOSED signs affixed over them. Some hotels appeared to be in good repair; others looked like whoever owned them walked away after the storm and never looked back. Perhaps insurance coverage or overall financial health was a factor.
We had forgotten how differently people in the deep south speak from us. In some cases when you are chit chatting with someone, you can smile and nod and it makes little difference whether you got every word. But when the campground owner is trying to explain to you where to turn and where to park and you have to have it repeated three times, it feels a bit awkward. There also seems to be a lot more cigarette smokiing around here. Our campground owner checked us in with an ever present butt hanging from her lip. Her husband zoomed out in his golf cart to escort us to our assigned place and clouds of smoke trailed behind him. When I went to the laundromat, a Mt. Everest of butts, lay outside the door. My fellow laundry patrons were also puffing away. The smell of cigarette smoke did not mix agreeably with the smell of fabric softener.