Today is the 5th anniversary of Hurricans Katrina sweeping ashore, the storm's eye passing through the little Mississippi Gulf Coast town of Waveland where I spent most of my childhood. There are some wonderful stories in the news.
Especially moving is a CNN piece on local Hancock Bank (who sponsored my brother's softball team!). Although their headquarters and most of their bank buildings had been destroyed, Hancock Bank opened for business the day after the storm. They rescued money from ravaged ATM machines, washed, dried, and ironed it manually, and in a scene right out of "Its a Wonderful Life", made it available for small cash loans to desperate locals and total strangers. The bank took IOUs written in pencil on yellow sticky notes and bits of old napkins. Hancock's Chairman says that of the millions loaned out, all but $300,000 was eventually paid off. Local gratitude was so great that deposits into Hancock Bank grew 40% and the bank's chairman was elected mayor of Gulfport last year - with 90% of the vote.
Five years ago, I was part of a very intense blogging conversation over at Amy Welborn's where some absurd things were being said about the "responsibility" of tens of thousands of New Orlean's poor for their own plight: trapped in horrific conditions in New Orlean's Super Dome. In response, I wrote up a post on my family's experience of losing everything in another Class 5 hurricane during another August. It got picked up and highlighted by Amy and a few other bloggers.
This little essay is dedicated to all who died, to all who survived and struggled to rebuild, to all who gave, to all the volunteers who have gone down year after year to help Katrina victims rebuild - and to all who helped my family long ago.
God bless and keep you and may we all meet merrily in heaven one day where all our suffering and losses have been swallowed up and transformed in the joy and glory of dwelling in the Presence.