In Biloxi Ms.
Jan 18, 2008
|Jan. 18, 2008
We left New Orleans this morning for Biloxi, Mississippi, with the Pellegrini's & Evans's traveling together and the Fines heading off to Prairieville to pick up mail. The trip was short in miles, but took a long time because of traffic, road conditions, and stops. While traveling around New Orleans, we were caught behind several Mardi Gras floats, going about 25 MPH with a State Police escort not allowing traffic to pass. Eventually the 4 lane road widened and we were waved on.
Our trip through the NE portion of New Orleans revealed what we really hadn't seen before, the full extent of damage cased by hurricane Katrina. We passed numerous empty apartment buildings, many two story brick, which were still vacant, showing extensive damage. Some had for sale or lease signs. Businesses were boarded up, some with roofs or siding or windows missing. Piles of rubble where something no longer distinguishable once stood. Overpasses with their access roads blocked off. It reminded me of a nuclear war scene from a movie. Farther on we passed miles of concrete pillars where bridge restoration work was in progress.
Eventually we found ourselves at a Mississippi welcome center which was absolutely beautiful, being in the style of an antebellum mansion. Inside there was a Mardi Gras costume exhibit, free coffee, soda, and information all served up by some of the nicest staff imaginable.
While there, we took advantage of a free tour to the John C. Stennis Space Center. A bus picked us up and took us a few miles to the center while the driver explained the center and what functions it performs.
The center occupies about 125,000 acres and was established in 1963 to test rocket engines, which is still its main function. An area that large is required to limit the amount of noise to the surrounding area.
Also on the base is the Navy's Meteorology and Oceanography center, employing about 1800 people. These people build, design, and deploy the large meteorology buoys in our oceans which constantly monitor weather and water conditions throughout the world to assist in weather and hurricane forecasts.
The center itself has all kinds of exhibits, many of which are interactive and lots of fun for everyone. We tried several of them, not always with the results we wanted.
Our biggest disappointment was when we found that due to the small number of visitors that day, the coffee pot and soft ice cream machines in the cafeteria had already been cleaned for the day. So, after grabbing a soda, it was back on the shuttle and we returned to the rest area where we found a note from Don and Bonnie stating that they had just left about 15 minutes before.
From there, it was back on the road for the short drive to our RV park, just north of the city limits of Biloxi.
Mississippi: We are looking for signs of Katrina and usually ask locals about their experience. At the Stennis Space Center a number of the employees and their families took refuge from the hurricane in their reinforced buildings - and the hurricane centered right through the complex. They had some roof damage, but came through very well. The shuttle launch stations were saved from the water surge by using forced air pressure from within to keep the water out. After the storm the center became headquarters for FEMA relief efforts. Have a number of pictures in the museum. Down here FEMA is a bad word! We are accumulating quite a store of information about NASA, so looking forward to the shuttle launch - we hope!
Our rv park was under three feet of water after Katrina - ten miles inland. It has all been cleaned up and refurbished. Only the empty foundation of a building they lost and a few former FEMA trailers give a clue. Most of the park residents are construction workers and long term guests. There is lots of new home construction in this area - nice homes. But along the coast the major rebuilding has been the casinos - ten huge ones with multistory hotels. Maybe five or six huge multistoried condeminium projects along the beach, and then mostly empty lots where houses used to be. All the ruble has been cleared away, but people are not rebuilding near the beach. We are told the insurance is expensive or impossible....Gail