Noah is a cancer survivor. He is in 60's. And his story is typical of the determination and resoluteness many on the Mississippi Gulf Coast have shown since Hurricane Katrina. He choose not to evacuate. Like many, he could not conceive of a hurricane worse than Hurricane Camille. Hurricane Camille's storm surge 24 feet. Hurricane Katrina's storm surge, according to NOAA, was 28 feet. Those four feet made Hurricane Katrina a storm who swath of destruction is still unimaginable.
Noah stayed in his home. His home was a approximately a quarter of a mile from Biloxi's Back Bay. He watched as the water rose and kept rising. He sought shelter in his attic and through there watched as Katrina's surge mowed down everything in its path. He watched as the wall of water destroyed his home. He survived and when the waters receded, he saw that nothing much was left on his street and that there was a vast emptiness all the way to the bay.
His response was typical of so many along the Gulf Coast. He and his neighbors checked on one another. None had homes that were habitable. None had food or water. But they helped one another as best as they could.
What was left of his home was eventually torn down. He was provided with a FEMA trailer. He has been on the waiting list for a Katrina Cottage. It arrived last week!!! He is only waiting for the electricity to be hooked up which should happen some time this week. He gave me permission to take photos and to tell his story.
The Katrina Cottages are small. Their design utilizes the space well. Their biggest advantage is they provide a great deal more protection than FEMA trailers. Also, their design blends in well with the architecture which predominated the Mississippi Gulf Coast before Katrina.
More and more of these cottages dot the landscape. Not only do they provide vital shelter but they give more of a sense of permanence than the FEMA trailers. The ubiquitous FEMA trailers are receding into memory. The cottages do so much more than provide shelter. Those who live in them now have a sense of home. And those who look at them, take delight in the appearance.
Like the flowers of spring, the pink, yellow, blue, and grey shades of the Katrina Cottages offer a vision of rejuvenation.