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Residents proving resilience during crisis

With the city without water, my family is in hurricane mode.

Hurricane mode is something developed from living 10 years on the Gulf Coast and surviving four hurricanes, three of them major storms.

It means learning to live without and adjusting and adapting to a situation that leaves you without one or more of the things we daily take for granted in our lives, like water and electricity. It means finding ways of working around not being able to turn on the faucet or flush the toilet. In other words, being inventive.

And being without water is one of those situations requiring hurricane mode.

Right now, the kitchen and bathroom counters and the living room and kitchen floor are stocked with bottles and jugs of water. Hand sanitizers and baby wipes are in strategic places where they take the place of soap and water to wash hands and face and handle other sanitary necessities. There are bottles and jugs designated to handle plumbing activities like flushing a toilet. The cabinets are stocked with paper plates and plastic cups, and a container of plastic utensils sits on the counter. Packaged and canned foods that require no water and preparation in the microwave sit on the shelves.

In many ways, this situation reminds me of the days after Katrina. The lines for water and other resources, the local officials doing what they can to keep the rumor mills and panic down, the emails and calls from people seeking help or filing a complaint. The one thing that’s missing from my Katrina experience is the loss of power and the pool.

The paper I worked for on the coast had reserved several hotel rooms for reporters at a local hotel. In the days immediately after the storm, with the power and water systems out, the people staying at the hotel would head to the swimming pool with buckets to gather water so they could flush the toilets in their rooms. Eventually the pool became more than a place for water. It became a place were people could talk about events in the city, share stories and discuss their problems.

Our equivalent to the pool in Vicksburg is the store and social media, where we do the same thing. Another thing that reminds me of Katrina is the way folks here for the most part have remained calm and resigned to the fact that they are in situation over which they have no control, and are coping. In many ways, the residents of Vicksburg have done the same as their counterparts on the coast did.

I’ve been in Vicksburg for six years now, and every now and then, just when I think I’ve got the feel for the community, the people of Vicksburg do something that amazes me. The water situation could easily have been a crisis causing panic among the residents, but they have so far addressed this problem with dignity and calm, and that’s something to be proud of.

John Surratt is a staff writer at The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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