Road trips always make me appreciate our vast land of wondrous treasures and I have been fortunate to take many across most of the 48 contiguous states. My two favorite drives are along the verdant coastlines of central California and the Gulf Coast from New Orleans to St. Petersburg.
I fell in love with the coastal South on my first vacation there in the summer of 1970, one year after the arrival of Camille, our nation’s second strongest hurricane of the 20th century. Souvenirs from Camille were everywhere – homes, businesses, churches and schools knocked down and boarded up. On my last journey through the Gulf Coast region in 2002, some of the same houses that were shuttered in 1969 remained in a sad state of disrepair.
During the 30+ years in between, I enjoyed wonderful visits in New Orleans, Biloxi, Gulfport and Pensacola at waterfront hotels and restaurants now in imminent danger from the winds and waves of Katrina, the first category 5 hurricane since Camille to make landfall in the United States.
Weather pundits are predicting catastrophic devastation. Thousands upon thousands of our fellow countrymen could be homeless and jobless for months – or worse. The oil, insurance and tourism industries will certainly sustain serious damage with implications throughout our national economy. My prayers are with everyone in this storm’s path, including some of my friends and relatives.
N. Z. Bear has a page devoted to news and blog links covering Hurricane Katrina.