Monday, January 09, 2006

My Gulf Trip, Day 2

Today was much different from yesterday. Since we spent most of our day in Mobile, AL, we weren't able to see too much damage, We spent most of the morning meeting with public officials from around the region. We talked about some of the problems they've been facing and asked about what our association could do to help. Basically all of the people talked about how worthless FEMA has been. They said FEMA has been very nice, but there are so many forms and hoops they must go through they usually end up doing it themselves.

After the meetings, however, we took a car ride down to the Bayou. We passed Dauphin Island, which was closed because of the amount of damage there. 95 % of the homes on Dauphin Island are completely gone. The roads were too bad for crossing, so we just had to take the government's word on that statistic instead of seeing it for ourselves. However, in Bayou La Batre, our next stop, we saw a lot worse.
Bayou La Batre is the shrimping town featured in Forrest Gump. It's very southern, very poor and very run down. It does, however, boast one of the largest Vietnamese populations in the country. There were Vietnamese stores everywhere down there. Weird. The town itself looked so poor, we couldn't tell if the homes were damaged or if they were in normal condition. Going to the shore answered that question. There were boats hundreds of yards inland, strewn about people's yards. Stores were collapsed, roads were buckled and the trees were littered with debris.
We took a lot of pictures in Bayou La Batre before the sky opened up and the rain started to pour. Despite that, it was a humid 75 degrees and very nice. I posted a few phone pictures on the blog, but they didn't come out very well. I'll email the rest of the pictures later. That's all we ended up doing today, besides eating dinner at a very nice and very good seafood restaurant called Russo's. I had calamari, gumbo and mahi mahi. Good stuff.
More tomorrow... we head to Pascagoula and Biloxi, Mississippi.

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