‘One-round knockout’ – Part-time Vail residents from New Orleans
Note: Mary Sue and Steve Katz are part-time Vail residents whose home in New Orleans was severely damaged and flooded by Hurricane Katrina. They have been traveling back and forth between Vail and New Orleans since the storm, and writing about their experiences.NEW ORLEANS – Living in New Orleans all my life I’ve seen lots of hurricanes.
I’ve seen ones that just remind you of a windy day and others that change lives. I’ve seen trees that were hundreds of years old fall. I’ve seen other trees in residential neighborhoods fall into houses as if the roofs were crepe paper. We had our Andrew, Betsy, Camille, Dora, Elissa, Flossie, etc. We’ve had flooding from rainstorm and hurricane. I swam home over a mile Monday 3, 1979; There were floods in 1984, ’85 and ’87 floods. In 1965 Betsy did a flood job like no one had ever seen on a major city in the US. Then there was Katrina. The wind, the rain and the flood damages were like nothing anyone has ever seen. I’ve seen it and I’ve heard it in seven post-Katrina trips to New Orleans. So, when I decided to tour the Gulf Coast, I knew that there would be very little I hadn’t seen.
I jumped on Interstate 10 and headed east. I knew what bridges were out so I rode the interstate into Mississippi then headed for the beach. In spite of the prelude above, I was not prepared for what I saw.If New Orleans looked like a fighter who had gone 15 rounds with Sugar Ray, then the Gulf Coast resembled a one-round knockout. Shortly after exiting the interstate almost all structures were either flattened or crumpled at steep angles away from the shore. The angle increased as did the percentage of flattened trees, houses, cel towers, etc., until shortly before the coast, where the angle reached 180 degrees – flat. The trees were about 70 percent gone, billboards were either flat or twisted, and naked foundations adorned the shorescape.
There is no reminder of what once stood on a resort coastline.I got back on the interstate to dodge a bridge that had been blown away. I made sort of a squared inland U, then back to the coast. I called my cousin, who runs a small hotel on the water. His trump card was being 28 feet above sea level. The casino hotels were not quite so lucky. For about 4 to 5 months he was the only hotel or motel open between Louisiana and Pascagoula, Miss.
The destruction could be described by a lesson from plane geometry. The land is the land, layer 1. The next plane, or layer, encompasses the entire first and second floors. This plane was annihilated. In most cases the first two floors represented the entire structure – gone. In others the structural support held. Gone was everything else: sheetrock, furniture, studwalls as well as every personal possession. Some buildings did survive. Above the saturated planes buildings stood surreally, beginning at floor three, some with wind damage though most that survived, had very little damage. They existed as though the first two floors were invisible.
In 1990 Mississippi controversially allow gambling and now has second highest gambling volume among U.S. states. Gambling is the largest non-agricultural industry in the Mississippi and has the good fortune to landscape the Gulf Coast. It also will be the catalyst for the coast’s rebuilding. It comes complete with local jobs, outside capital for construction and outside money from tourism – New Orleans should be so lucky. Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado
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