Valley healing wounds of Katrina
October 12, 2005
Dear Editor: I know you have received many letters of appreciation for your community’s efforts to aid Pearlington, Miss., in its Hurricane Katrina recovery. Since there are not enough words in the English language to convey my gratitude, I now submit one. As Hurricane Katrina cleared its path along the Louisiana-Mississippi border, I could only watch the Weather Channel and pray for God’s mercy. Most of my family had evacuated to Arkansas, but my brother, brother-in-law and father remained in harm’s way. I feared the worst but expected little loss, since hurricanes have always frequented the area. Even Camille in 1969 did little damage to any structures in Pearlington save removing a few of the shingles, and that hurricane devastated nearby Waveland. Then, after the eye had passed over my hometown, reports began to broadcast from Gulfport, Miss.There the reporter had holed up in the VA hospital 14 feet above sea level and a half-mile inland believing he had erred on the side of caution, but the water reached 10 feet into the building! Our last contact with my brother-in-law, around 9 a.m. via cell phone, revealed that the storm surge was knee high in our home and rising quickly. Never before had water even reached up to the home. We worried (to put it mildly) until my brother Brian Danese reached Pearlington from his home in Shreveport shortly before daybreak Tuesday morning. He had not even packed supplies, not believing he would find any survivors. Yet not one life was lost in my neighborhood of Oak Harbor!Since the storm, news from my hometown has been sparse, or would have been except for your community’s involvement. You have provided us with glimpses into our ravaged childhoods, and have given us encouragement in your continued support of the community. Since I was not able at first to travel home, I instead asked my church to begin a website, at http://www.eksdac.org. I considered my connection as a golden opportunity to link those wishing to donate in a tangible way with those who desperately need their aid. That website has become a home base for updates and pictures, and we have included nearly all of your newspaper’s articles concerning Pearlington. (I hope we have not infringed on any copyright laws in doing so.) Please know that your information has been invaluable to those of us longing to go back home (as I have since had the opportunity), and that your long-term dedication to the area of Pearlington calms many residents’ fear of losing aid before their need is completely relieved. Your efforts are not unnoticed. Indeed, they are healing countless wounds suffered in Katrina’s fury, both in Pearlington and around the country.Esther SaylesEnterprise, Kan.