Back. And tired, tired, tired.

We are back–and no we didn’t listen to Jackson Browne. Sorry. We don’t have any of Jackson Browne’s CDs. Co-adult says there are some he’d like to get but I have to admit I’m not very familiar with Browne’s music.

Need to get an USB cable for the camera I was using the first couple of days of the trip before I can upload some of those images. In the meanwhile I’ve started work on some photos I took on Thursday going through New Orleans (where co-adult was born) and Gulfport (where co-adult spent some growing up time). We’ve a number of relatives down on the Gulf, some of whom are rebuilding or still displaced by Katrina, and had been told how badly Gulfport had been hit as well and how the news hadn’t reflected this. And Gulfport was indeed something else. We knew that it had been hit hard but it was distressing to see over a full year later how it still looked bombed out, debris lying everywhere, not even the piers and boardwalks rebuilt yet. I’ve only gotten about 18 photos of Gulfport done and have about 150 more to sort through and work on, but I’m hoping that the images will give, when viewed in total, a bit of what it’s like now to drive the beachfront highway.

The gulf parks in Mississippi off I-10 are still closed.

Thursday was a pretty bleak day, going through first New Orleans and then Gulfport. We drove in from Baton Rouge and had intially planned on spending the night in New Orleans but after seeing that all are favorite haunts in the French Quarter in New Orleans are gone, we decided to just make a stroll through and move on. The bookstore that I like to hit is still up and running and we did drop some business there.

And of course New Orleans is so much of it a ghost city now.

After driving through (co-adult thanked me for being kind enough to really depress him with the drive through Gulfport) it was a delight to meet up with one of Marty’s cousins and her husband in Mobile and have coffee with them. We made a vow to get together soon down in New Orleans, which would be great fun. They’re really enjoyable people and we would have accepted their invitation to spend the night at their place but we were the kind of road weary that just wanted to get that six hours between the coffee shop and home over with.

Click on the below photos to view larger at Flickr. At the Flickr page for the photos click “All Sizes” for the larger images.

Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi #2, November 2006

Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi #3, November 2006

Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi #13
Gulfport, Mississippi #12. November 2006. Hurricane Katrina aftermath. One year later.

My husband was born in New Orleans and spent a few years growing up in Gulfport. Seems appropriate to have a photo showing his face as he looked upon the debris. We’d heard from Mississippi and Louisiana relatives how bad the Gulfport area had been hit, and of course had seen it on the news (though it’s not been covered much) but it was still a shock to drive the highway down by the beach and see the state the area was in over a year later.

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

4 thoughts on “Back. And tired, tired, tired.”

  1. My O’Neal family reunion (Mom’s side) was once in Gulfport, but I never made it to Mississippi. Her mother was from Hattiesburg. It will be interesting to see your photos.

  2. Took me a while to find his face but when I did it was very moving. We saw a programme here in the UK (done by British journalists) which detailed the destruction round the Gulf and the story of non-helpfulness of those who should have been helping. I spent a lot of it crying. Is there much awareness in the US of the extent of the destruction and the non-reconstruction?

  3. Snowqueen, I can’t say absolutely that there isn’t that awareness because I don’t watch the commercial news channels–but, no, I don’t believe there is and I know that relatives in the Gulf area have been frustrated with feeling there isn’t such awareness and also frustrated with the lack of media coverage of areas other than New Orleans that were hit. A reason I insisted we take Highway 90 down through Gulfport is because of relatives complaining of not seeing many images coming out of there, so I thought I’d capture some. And even though I was aware of the extent of the destruction and the non-reconstruction, I was surprised seeing it in person. Just returning from a cross-country trip, dipping down into the Gulf area one is given the distinct impression of abandonment by the rest of the nation, especially driving in from Houston. Some of the people on the New Orleans streets…it’s difficult to describe, but they seemed to communicate in their manner the kind of end-of-the-world hopelessness which inspires a sense of invisibility and in that sense of invisibility they abandon themselves to a postures of hopeless languor one doesn’t see with people who feel they’ve a voice and a future. They make the homeless in Atlanta look positively cheerful and animated (we live a couple of blocks from the largest soup kitchen in Atlanta). I took a couple of pictures that when i got home I was surprised to see a human being crouching in a corner, and even when I tried to focus in on them they still remained looking like a pile of cloth, their faces lost.

  4. Living in such a small country means it’s inconceivable that such a large area of destruction affecting so many people can somehow be ignored. Although having said that, I heard a radio programme about the mini-tornado that struck Birmingham last year and was shocked to hear people complaining that a whole street had been effectively abandoned and little done to restore the damaged houses.

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