Tuesday, March 14, 2006
This chair is in a house in Pearlington Mississippi. I took this picture in the quiet hours of the early morning on a recent visit to that small town. I first met Pearlington, and it's people on October 5th of last year - five weeks after the storm.
I was sent down from Ohio with the Red Cross and had been on the coast for two days. I was deeply saddened and moved by the destruction of the Gulf Coast, but what I found in Pearlington made me speechless. They were weeks behind everyone else in recovery.
My job with the Red Cross was Staff Health. As an RN I was to travel to the shelters, kitchens and distribution centers and make sure that the volunteers were safe and physically and emotionally well.
I first got to Pearlington in the afternoon hours of October 5th. It was miles from anywhere but seemed to be worlds away. Many of the houses were still standing, but what the wind didn't carry away the water ruined. Like a bully holding onto a small child, the trees kept the homes in place while the water beat them relentlessly.
As I said my "job" was Staff Health, but I found my duty in Pearlington. My mission. I would spend my mornings doing my official assignments, then all my afternoons in Pearlington. I would load up my assigned van and travel the dusty roads looking for people who could not come to the center. People too old, too depressed, or just unable to get to the help they needed. Many of the people I encountered just needed to tell their stories. They had wonderful stories of survival and courage, and a lot of pride.