Update on Mississippi Romms
(This is edited from an e-mail from my mother; all accounts are second hand. I'm just about to try out their new e-mail addresses. Recap: My brother Dan, who is a doctor in the Biloxi VA hospital, lived in Pass Christian, a community just West of Gulfport MS. He and sister-in-law Joyce and nephew Jake escaped the storm by going to the VA, but their house is a total loss. I hear different things about whether it's still standing or not, but they aren't going back.)
Their town is in about the same shape as it was when explorer Pass Christian came by a few hundred years ago. Perhaps with fewer trees. Everything built is gone, even bank vaults. A 25-foot wall of water, winds over 140 mph.
They drove to Dan's Biloxi VA Hospital the Monday morning when Katrina turned from a Class 1 to a Class 5 in the few hours she blew from Florida over the warm Gulf, warmer due to climate change, says [brother] Joe. A Kabalist might say that when you don't sign Kyoto, you invite Katrina. The idea is right, if the time-line isn't.
When the storm was over and roads passable, and gas in enough stations according to the state troopers (both cars, parked on high ground at the hospital, were drivable), they drove for more than 9 hours up to Atlanta to be instantly taken in by a family with 4-year-old twins and a 7-year-old, and a finished basement ("No, nothing special. You would do the same for us. We want to teach our children how to be good human beings.")
Now they are installed in a rental house (landlord: "What should I charge you? What would be right? What do you want to pay?" So the first month is free, etc.), 4 bedrooms, fully stocked refrigerator, stuffed freezer, 2 queen-sized beds, 1 single bed, washer, dryer, etc., etc., all courtesy of the Atlanta Jewish Federation, who has relocated 200 families. Without a hitch, as if they did it every Monday and Thursday.
(In contrast... Did you happen to see the report that began, "President G.W. Bush and his mother, Marie Antoinette...." ?)
Joyce chose Atlanta over other welcoming communities because it is a one-hour flight from Biloxi (Birmingham, Alabama, for example, is a long, long drive, no direct flights), which Dan took this past week-end since the airport at Gulfport, Miss. is sort of working.
Dan is commuting from the Biloxi VA Hospital, which has taken in the Keesler AFB hospital and another local one, both inoperable. A couple of days ago, Dan was running a "reorganization meeting," as he called it, to rearrange 3 staffs and all their patients. Only a few of Dan's out-patients, having fled the area and with no place to return to, have managed to come by. Dan is staying with one of the hospital pharmacists, who posted on the bulletin board his 2 available bedrooms.
Jake has started high school. It's not been easy for the kids. He's lucky in that, unlike the typical new kid in class who starts off as an outsider, he has come through high adventure heroically.