"Walking on Water" celebrates post-Katrina progress

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - What was impossible in Katrina's aftermath has become a regular pastime for thousands of South Mississippians. On Hurricane Katrina's fourth anniversary, a walk over Biloxi Bay represented not only a memory, but a milestone in recovery.

Adele Lyons, Program Director for the Knight Foundation, originated the idea for the 'Walk on Water,' which is in its 2nd year.

"When the bridge opened in November, it was such a big deal for people," said Lyons. "Not just from a transportation stand point, but it really showed progress."

Progress isn't perfect or shared by everyboy. Lynette Meyers, Special Events Coordinator for The Lord is My Help charity, said she still sees many people who are struggling to find their footing post-Katrina.

"Their rent may have increased, or their house notes may have increased; their taxes may have increased, their insurance may have increased, so they're still feeling the effects of Katrina," Meyers explained of some of the people who frequent The Lord is My Help.

Walk on Water organizers said they understand the continuing need for aid in South Mississippi. That's why more than 1,000 walkers donated bags and boxes of canned goods to The Lord is My Help. Everyone who donated got a free t-shirt with the event's logo on the back, and slogan, "more than Just a Bridge."

"There are still people in our community that need our help. Certainly, it's the Katrina anniversary, and we want to commemorate that," Lyons said. "But we want to do it in a positive way."

"By 7:30 this morning, we had cans piled up," Meyers said. "And it was just an amazing thing that people remember that there's other people that are still less fortunate than they are, still struggling, still needing the help. And it's just such a sense of hope for the future, so you know that people are still giving."

To the event's organizers and participants, the charity shows even a storm that destroyed everything can't break the spirit of South Mississippi.

"It was terrible what happened in our community, but we can't continue to look back and be negative and sad about it," Lyons said. "We have to figure out how can we look forward to make it a positive in our community. I think that's what the bridge says to so many people. It's a positive way to look forward in our community."

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