As we drove into Pearlington, Miss., some semblance of civilization was visible. The roads were mostly clear, some homes had been torn down to their foundations, but mostly, there was still homes untouched since Hurricane Katrina decimated the town. We were shocked to find very little has changed..
Six months after Hurricane Katrina roared through, Aspen Times reporter and I returned to see what the continuing needs were for the town.
B&W Grocery –
Some basics services such as electricity have been restored, when we were there, a phone company was fixing the phone lines, cell phone service was restored, and most of the streets were cleared, but piles of debris still lined the roads and many homes were still in shambles.
There was still a lot of work to do. On a scale of 1 to 10, Pearlington was still a 1.
Read Scott’s “Reporter’s Blog” about our first impressions on our second trip: “Still a one on a scale 1 to 10.”
Janitor as the Postman –
As with the first trip, our first stop was along the main highway to see some of the people we talked with before. While driving through town, it was apparent little progress was made other than the clearing of the streets and very few homes. Many in Pearlington were still waiting for decisions from the insurance companies.
Power of the Surge –
There was a permanent smell to the air akin to mold and mildew. It was apparent why. The heat and humidity accentuated the rot of the lumber and debris along the roads and at homesites still untouched since August 29th, 2005, six months earlier.
During the week, we were in then out of Pearlington, went to Pass Christian, Waveland, and Bay St. Louis. Again, visiting the places we say in Sept. of 2005.
Hancock Bank –
In Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian, many homes along the waterfront were still untouched. Many buildings remained in shambles or piles. The roads were wreck due to the ground swelling from the storm surge
Antebellum Home –
Some residents did not wait for FEMA nor the insurance companies to begin the process of rebuilding. Larry Nicosia’s home on Riverfront was wiped out. The only thing left of his were the pilings the home rested on.
Rebuilding Begins –
Many of the residents still relied on the recovery center for their basic supplies. Food, clothing, shelter, were all available to the residents. Charles B. Murphy had been transformed into a fully working center over the past few months.
Clothes Shopping –
Where Children Once Laughed –
During one afternoon, we filed our photos and stories early. So Scott and I took a break at the Recovery Center. I took that time to wander about and see what I could find in the school. It was apparent someone tried cleaning.
One wing of the school showed the progress of cleaning in a weird way:
- The first room was cleaned except for the buckled floor
- The second room was mostly cleaned with trash left on the floor
- The third room, the desks and furniture was piled in a corner and trash on the floor, the walls were cleaned.
- The fourth room had the walls cleaned, but nothing else
- The fifth room was untouched as were the rest of the rooms in the wing.
I continued to walk through and found some incredible things. One of my favorite photos is a computer mouse surrounded by dried and cracked mud. Toys in a kindergarten room, watermarks on the wall showing the level of the storm surge.
Muddy Mouse –
Water Lines –
Today’s Lesson Plan –
Teddy Bears and Toys –
Faith continues to be a big part of the rebuilding process for many. Church services in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church were now being held in the rebuilt community center. It was was being debated whether or not to rebuild the church building.
Ash Wednesday –
For more images from the second trip to Pearlington, visit my gallery Hurricane Katrina -Pearlington, Miss., March 2006
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Paul “pablo” Conrad
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Paul Conrad is an award-winning, nationally and internationally published freelance editorial photographer living in Bellingham north of Seattle, WA, in the Pacific Northwest. His work has been published in newspapers and magazine throughout the United States and in Europe. He is available for assignments anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.
His clients include Getty Images, Wire Image, AirBnB, The Bellingham Herald, and many local business in Whatcom County. Previous clients are Associated Press, the New York Times, L.A. Times, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, and many others.
His specialty is photojournalism covering news, sports, and editorial portraits, he also is skilled in family portraiture, high school senior portraits, and weddings.