Storm won’t be forgotten

Published 7:04 pm Wednesday, September 26, 2018

In the midst of writing about memories of where I was on 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, I let another anniversary slip by.

I didn’t notice it until I was doing one of the Old Post Files that this year marked the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Georges.

Georges was not my first hurricane (at least the first one I fully remember). That was Betsy in 1965. But it was the first hurricane I covered on the coast.

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I went through Betsy in Baton Rouge, and it remains in my memory for two reasons: I played in the high school band at a football game the night Betsy came ashore and remember the light poles at Memorial Stadium swaying back and forth. The other reason is part of my family’s lore. As the torrential rains pounded the house and the 90 mph winds howled, I slept through whole thing.

Georges, however, was a different story. It hit one year after we bought our house in Pascagoula, and marked the first time my wife and daughter evacuated to Baton Rouge and I stayed to cover the storm, the first of many times in subsequent years we would go through the drill. Also, Georges came the day after the Saints, then loveable losers whose games were comic relief, won. I don’t, however, remember whom they beat.

Georges was no Katrina, but in his own way he created a lot of damage and havoc across the coast. There were many times the old hands in Jackson County told me, “It’s flooded in places I’ve never seen it flood before.” I’ll always remember the high water trapped by the storm’s southerly winds as Georges hung over the coast for a couple of days.

I will also remember the fascination the national news services had with alligators. It was very funny, all around U.S. 90 east from Pascagoula, people were using boats and wading in high water to get their belongings out of their homes, and here were satellite trucks from CBS and CNN pulled off the highway in front of an alligator farm taking video of gators enjoying a few hours (days?) of freedom while human suffering was all around.

I remember some of that suffering during a visit to the Pecan and Bayou Heron areas near the tidal marsh areas in Jackson County and talked with a woman who had lost all the Christmas presents she bought and carefully put away to give to her grandchildren. Her house was heavily damaged by storm surge and she was living in a FEMA trailer.

My own home lost shingles and about half the oak tree in our backyard was removed by the storm. One nice thing was my home had power the night after the storm, the benefit of having two utility linemen living in the neighborhood. I had checked into one of the hotel rooms the paper had reserved, but when I saw my lights on, I checked out and went home. It felt good.

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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