Thursday, September 22, 2005

Things are still a long way from normal

Things are still a long way from normal

Some times it seems like repairs have come a long way - but they have so far to go.
Even now it is hard to grasp the full scale of Katrina's destruction!

Amy and I have been maintaining a semblance of normality over the last couple of weeks, but this morning I was struck by how far from normality we really are. Here's what was going through my mind.

Firstly, we normally go to a local gym each weekday morning before we start work. Our gym lost its roof and suffered considerable damage from Katrina, so right now it is closed so they can rebuild. We have to travel an extra 15 miles or so to go to a different gym - a gym that we found quite by accident when we were unable to go to a second gym that is normally our backup!

Secondly, as we travel along Pass Road through Gulfport and Biloxi, I am struck buy the fact that fewer than 10% of retail outlets and businesses appear to be open. Can you even begin to comprehend what that is doing to the local economy? Thousand and thousands of people are missing, scattered about the USA now that their homes are destroyed or unfit to live in. But hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses have been equally badly affected. The local newspaper, the Sun Herald, published an article today that said, among other things,"Of the 171,000 dwellings in the area, more than 65,100 homes, or 38 percent, are destroyed and an additional 38,000 sustained major damage". 65,100 homes destroyed!

Thirdly, with all those businesses closed, there are few restaurants open (most with very restricted menus), only one movie theatre within about a 50 mile radius, few grocery stores, only a small number of banks, roughly 30% of gas stations ... etc, etc. In other words most of the places where people normally go for neccesities, luxuries and entertainment are all gone. Even those people who were lucky enough to be barely touched by Katrina are now being starved not only of their luxuries, but many of their necessities.

Why was I so struck by all of this? Monday will be 4 weeks since Katrina hit. Almost a month. In nearly 4 weeks the teams of people repairing services to our homes and businesses have done unbelievable work, returning electricity, phone, water and sewerage services to almost everyone who can receive such services. But no amount of wonderful work by those people can possibly speed up the repairs to homes and businesses, or replace those that were completely washed away. It really is going to take years to make repairs on that scale.

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