Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hurricane Katrina, August 29, 2005

Not a happy "anniversary", but one that we here on the Gulf Coast should learn from.  There was a lot of mishandling and improper national media coverage, from our standpoint.  All they wanted to cover was New Orleans, but they encountered floods from broken, improperly-maintained levees; the most terrible damage occurred along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where for several miles inland, it looked like a moonscape, wiped clean, from storm surge; I know, I was there for a friend in some of the relief efforts.  Alabama suffered a lot of damage, as well, regarding the fishing industry.  Numerous shrimping and other boats and vessels were shoved inland for a long distance.

I had many Ham radio operators ask me about the condition of the coast, who NEVER saw any damage on national TV or heard of it on the national broadcast radio news about Mississippi or Alabama; we are of the opinion that the media wanted "drama" and not the truth.  These Ham operators were astounded at the damage outside the areas the media didn't cover.  Pictures of Mississippi and Alabama were e-mailed to my fellow Hams all over this country, that the media otherwise ignored....

As for communications along the coast, the Georgia Baptist Society's Ham radio operators took time off from their lives and jobs, many of them for SIX months, brought their own radio gear, generators, supplies, food and fuel and lent their services for police, fire, ambulance, marine police, hospitals, and many, many other emergency services, while the communications infrastructure was being rebuilt.  Most of this activity occurred in Mississippi, with the fringes into Louisiana.  Mobile, Alabama was the "gateway" for digital (and some voice) communications for "health and welfare" messages.  The Hams in the affected areas made arrangements for their own food, fuel and supplies from outside areas, so as not to put any strain on the already overburdened relief efforts.  I remember that there was one broadcast station on the Gulf in Mississippi that survived and was able to offer information, but I cannot remember its call letters now.

Needless to say, there has been a lot of rebuilding, but there are still signs of Katrina all up and down the Louisiana, Mississipi and Alabama coasts.  As with all the other hurricanes we've endured, this one was different; no two are the same.  All we can do is try to learn from each one.  I have been fascinated by these storms and their beauty, as well as fury, ever since I experienced Camille back in '69.  I slightly remember one in '65 as a very young child, but really remember Frederick in '79.  Many stormed have buffeted the Gulf Coast year after year and I have endured all but two and those two were not worth running from; we just saw fit to evacuate two elderly friends, because of their fright at the media's "drama".

Not anything relating to KAAY; just radio-related.  You had to have been there, on the ground, and not in front of the TV set....

Bud S.

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