Katrina blows

Directions to Ford Park in Beaumont, Texas, a shelter for those fleeing Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

It is just heartbreaking to see photos and read stories about what Hurricane Katrina did to the Gulf Coast, especially to New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

I was stationed at the U.S. Navy Construction Battalion Center — the Seabees — in Gulfport, Miss., some 30 years ago. I was there for 2 1/2 years and I loved the place. I loved the people. If it hadn’t been for a woman I would have probably lived there. Today that woman is long gone (my fault entirely) as is much of the Mississippi coast. I also visited New Orleans a lot when I was stationed in Gulfport. Hey, when you’re 19-20 years old and NOLA is 70 miles away, what you gonna do? I haven’t been to Gulfport since 1994 and haven’t been to New Orleans in a couple of years. But I still feel a connection with them. I remember special places and tonight I wonder if those places are piles of rubble?

One piece of good news. A friend in Waco e-mailed me that a friend of ours and her husband who live in New Orleans got out the weekend before and are visiting her mom near Houston. Unfortunately, their apartment is supposedly under 14 feet of water. It makes me wonder, what are you going to do about the little things, like jobs?

I still don’t know about my friends Betti and Dave who live in Gulfport. Their place is about 18-20 blocks north of the beach. But the whole place got hammered. I hope they went up to the country around Columbus, Miss., from where Betti hails. Hopefully, I will find out in the not too distant future.

Meanwhile, the Sun Herald newspaper in Biloxi still is doing a superb job despite everything. A couple of their reporters have been blogging for the last couple of days. Knight Ridder newspaper CEO Tony Ridder and other officials from that chain came to talk to Sun Herald employees today about the importance of what they were doing. At the time, only about 25 percent of the Sun Herald’s workforce had been accounted for. Scary. We wish them the best.

Other good info from the hard hit areas is from the Times-Picayune and WWL-TV in New Orleans. Local TV stations here in Beaumont, Texas, where a number of storm refugees have gathered, report that local shelters at Ford Park, the Salvation Army and in other spots need donations of money, toiletries, bedding, etc. for those staying here. If you’re around here or even elsewhere Email me and I’ll try to find out from someone how you can help.

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