Never forgetting Aug. 29

Published 7:51 pm Wednesday, August 29, 2018

It passed Wednesday without much recognition, unless you either live on the Coast or lived through it on the Coast and have moved to another area of Mississippi or another state.

Wednesday was the 13th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and for me, as I’m sure for many current and past Coast residents who were there in 2005, it’s an event that even today is as real was it was 13 years ago.

For me and my family, as it was for many others, the storm shook us to the core and gave us a strong object lesson in just what in this world are truly your most valuable possessions. I explain that each year to friends who know my allegiance to LSU and the football Tigers when they get surprised that I don’t get very upset over a Tiger loss. “When you’ve seen what 41/2 feet of storm surge can do to your home and you realize what you could have lost,” I tell them, some things don’t seem as important.”

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I have said in the past that Katrina was a great equalizer. It didn’t matter whether you were rich or poor, or what the color of your skin was, everyone was in the same boat; all of us had remove and throw out practically everything in our homes. We had to rip out dry wall and insulation, and start from scratch.

And a lot of us had to live in FEMA trailers for an extended period (because this is a family paper, I won’t tell you what we called those trailers).

As one acquaintance put it, “When I tell my friends about my problems, I don’t feel so bad, because they’re having the same problems.”

When I arrived here in the spring of 2011 and began covering the flood and the recovery, I knew what the people in Kings and Chickasaw were going through.

For a reporter, covering a disaster as severe as a Katrina or an F4 or 5 tornado or a flood is an awkward experience, because while you’re covering the story you’re also a part of it. You’re one of those hundreds of people the other news services are talking about. You’re one of the people rebuilding their homes and trying to regain some of the life that was suddenly taken away. I must admit, covering the rebuilding was therapy for me.

If there is one thing that still upsets me 13 years later is the perception people have that Katrina hit New Orleans. True, the western side of the storm hit the Crescent City, but the flooding there was result of man’s inability to control nature. Mississippi took a direct hit, with the eye wall passing over Pascagoula.

It’s a time I never forget. So each Aug. 29 I wear my Katrina T-shirt and stop and remember where I was and what I was doing, and thank God that I was able to convince my wife to evacuate Pascagoula and I made it through the day. 

John Surratt is a staff writer at The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at

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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