Snowbirds - Winter 2006 travel blog

FEMA campground

bashed in house

camped next to house

totally deserted

tarp roof

camped next to house

Our next destination is a wedding in northern FL. This means we need to travel through the area devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita last summer. We know that the media can sensationalize things and frighten you much more than circumstances justify, but we thought it would be good to drive close to Louisiana, so we can zoom through the rest of the state as well as Mississippi and Alabama in one fell swoop. We weren't sure if the campgrounds listed in our reference book would be open, or if they were, whether they would be full of local folks living in trailers.

We didn't even make it out of Texas and signs of storm damage were clearly evident. Many homes sported blue tarp roofs and the forests looked as if someone had gone through them with an egg beater. Roofs and frames of businesses are twisted like modern art scupltures. The highway became rough and heavy equipment lined the sides laboring to return I-10, a major southern route, back to normalcy.

We are camped eight miles over the border in Louisiana. Our campground owner is so angry about her situation she could hardly talk. She has lost her employees and cannot find anyone new to hire, because the government is still providing handouts and the recipients prefer handouts to jobs. She had just heard that benefits had been extended thirteen more weeks which meant that she and her husband had to continue running the place all alone. She said, "We are so sick of hearing about New Orleans." He was busy with an earthmover, trying to bury all the garbage from the storm that no public agency has ever removed for them. Our next door neighbor is an insurance agent from Allstate, who has been here for three months, a pleasant experience to be sure.

A short drive through town, at least thirty miles from the sea, revealed extensive storm damage. What had previously been an Exxon gas station is now a FEMA campground, filled with government provided trailers. Piles of garbage were everywhere. Some people were living in trailers parked next to what was left of their homes. Many homes had tarps roofs. Some were in such bad shape that they had been deserted. We aren't anywhere near the epicenter of the storm damage. I don't look forward to what we will see tomorrow.

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