Blogathon for Pearlington

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The New Normal

A few weeks after Katrina, people started bandying about the phrase, “the new normal.” We understood by then that the chaos was beginning to settle down into something we would have to recognize as normal, but it was like no normal we’d ever known before. In Hattiesburg, where I live, the signs of Katrina are abundant, especially for those who knew what it looked like before. I still get disoriented sometimes when I turn down a street that should be familiar to me. I have to double-check to make sure I’m in the right place because nothing looks the same. The main difference here is that there are so many trees missing that our whole landscape has changed. There are still houses being repaired and still blue tarps on roofs, but those kinds of signs are diminishing for us all the time.

In Pearlington, they have a long way to go to even catch up with their neighbors just a few miles to the north. Caved in houses and debris piles are still the norm for them. As are FEMA trailers, tents, and port-a-potties.

The psychological effects alone of living in a world that has been torn apart are enormous. When that world should be home to you but is unlike anything you’ve ever known before the anxiety and disorientation and fear wear and tear at you in ways most of us can only imagine.

Returning Pearlington to anything we’d want to consider as normal for a small town in America will take years. The commitment for outside help must be long term. If you can get to Pearlington to work, you’ll be needed for many months and years to come. If you can send money, it will still be needed even if it is a while before you have it to send. Most of all, though, remember that Pearlington needs your prayers. Those will be needed on an ongoing basis for a very long time to come as well.


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