When our team first arrived in Pearlington it was really late at night and dark. We couldn't see much but then we hadn't seen much in the hour it had taken to drive into Pearlington from New Orleans either. We didn't notice the tinkertoy design of the I-10 bridge, we didn't see the apartment buildings on the side of the abandoned or the homes that were destroyed. We didn't notice, not because we weren't looking, but because it was dark, so very dark. There weren't streetlights or lights on in homes. It was dark.
The morning brought a new vision to our eyes. Destruction surrounded us. The boat washed up on land that we'd seen pictures of was in the backyard of the camp we were staying in. That first glimpse of Pearlington 8 months after Hurricane Katrina ripped through is not something I will soon forget. Nor will I forget what it was like to return each of the subsequent trips. It's been humbling to be a small part of the recovery of Pearlington...and frustrating. Each time we go we witness the struggle of rebuilding, for every 5 steps forward it feels like we take 4 steps back but yet there is a constant movement forward.
Last March as we drove from Pearlington back into New Orleans at the end of our 6th trip we saw more signs of life, more streetlights, major work on the I-10 bridge that took it from being right on the water to rising high into the air, more businesses and more cars. I felt truly hopeful as we left, hopeful that someday soon the work would be done and life would return to whatever normal is for the Gulf Coast.
Today, as the 3rd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina comes around my heart is a little heavy and I'm feeling a little extra anxious for the Gulf Coast as Gustav begins to pick up steam. While remembering the horror of Katrina, I'm watching the preparations for Gustav and praying desperately that this storm doesn't bring the destruction that all are preparing for, that the hope that has been recently found again will not be lost and that all the work that has gone into making homes on the Gulf Coast more hurricane ready will not be tested this season. Praying for the residents of the Gulf Coast and remembering.