Thursday, February 02, 2006

January 12,2006-E. Biloxi,Miss. Moore Community House



[Photo Captions: (1) Entering Biloxi;(2) Broken Bridge (Accordion-shaped) ;(3) Devastated Bridge (from another angle); (4) Displaced Casino Barge; (5) Rev. Carol Burnett in Front of Space Where One of Her Buildings Once Stood;(6) Cynthia Wilson,Carol Burnett, Charon Hribar and Willie Baptist in front of gutted Moore Bldg.]

Today a few of us opted out of the work relief due to allergies and other physical limitations.
Nonetheless, it was a day well-spent touring Biloxi's Casino District and the neighborhood surrounding Moore Community House, which is run by a Union Alum,Rev. Carol Burnett. The devastation witnessed in Biloxi was simply unimaginable. It was the first time in my life I had ever seen a bridge of steel and cement contorted and twisted up into an uncanny resemblance of a deformed accordion instrument, as you can see from one of the above photos. As incredible as it was to observe that,it didn't even come close to seeing how an entire casino barge weighing in the megatons was dragged by hurricane force winds from one side of the street over to the other,spanning the length of a least two city blocks. Miles of bits and pieces of fragmented buildings blown apart by the wind or storm surge which came crashing onto shore, lined the streets.

After driving and stopping through areas of Biloxi,we finally ended up at the Moore Community House,or at least what was left of it. Most of the eight (8) building complex which provided vital early childhood development and learning programs for single low-income mothers and employment for thirty-six (36) employees was gone.The entire neighborhood was just about deserted. There were relief workers there from organizations such as Service International, Hands On or individuals and groups like ours that had traveled miles across the country on their own initiative just to help victims of Hurricane Katrina rebuild, among other things. One of the men working on the construction team had come all the way from Seattle, Washington. Another, a doctor hailing from New York City like most of the people in our group from Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary. It was heart warming to see total strangers that had traveled so far to help out.

The thing which struck me most about today is the fact that we were told earlier on in the trip that the further south we traveled the worst the structural damage would become. I just could not imagine how that could be. Next stop, New Orleans, Louisiana.