Mississippi Gulf Devastated, Not Defeated

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Meet Katrina Blackwood. That's right. Katrina Blackwood. Not the most popular name on the Gulf Coast these days, after what Hurricane Katrina did to her home about two blocks off the coast.

Blackwood said she doesn't like it much either. The flood waters rose to about eight feet in her house. She and her husband, Charlie, are having to gut it and basically start over.

No, Katrina doesn't sound like such a good name anymore. Blackwood is thinking about changing it.

"My friend calls me 'Matilda' and yeah, I have thought about it and everybody comes down here and says Katrina! So, now my name is Matilda. 55 years, and now it's going to be Matilda," said Blackwood. "I don't think Katrina's a good name anymore."

But Katrina, Matilda, whatever you want to call her, and her husband both know they are among the luckiest this close to the coastline. Their home is still standing. The same can't be said for pretty much everyone south of her, even a few feet south of her.

This is what it looks like along Highway 90, now a two-lane road, by the way. And what was once a bustling seaside village is now just the opposite. For fifty miles, pretty much all of the Mississippi coastline is rubble.

Even if you're familiar with this area, maybe especially if you're familiar with this area, it's very disorienting to be in now. There are no street signs. There are no landmarks, practically nothing that you're used to seeing when you come to the Mississippi coast is here anymore.

This is how Governor Haley Barbour described it to a group of people meeting in Biloxi this week.

"The depth and scope, the breadth, the intensity of destruction, it's obliteration in a lot of places. It's unimaginable," Barbour said.

It's certainly nothing anyone in this neighborhood ever imagined. The Blackwoods' neighbor, Patty Bowering, is doing her best to clean up her home. You can still see the line where the water came six feet up the wall. There's only so much she can do with a broom.

"It devastated. It's just awful because this is all I have," said Bowering.

It's the same story pretty much everywhere you go. But neither Bowering, nor the Blackwoods are allowing themselves to stay down about it.

"Why be sad about it? Other people are worse off than we are. They don't have nothing," said Charlie Blackwood.

But the hope is, one day soon, this place will be back, bigger and better than it was before.