In August 2005 I was a freshman at Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, Mississippi, which is located just outside of Jackson. I remember watching the updates on the news every day about this massive storm in the Gulf of Mexico.
The day the storm came in I remember sitting at home with the family and watching the news as the water rose. We couldn't believe some of the things we were seeing. A lot of the things we saw on the news were familiar to us, because my family would come to the coast for vacation often.
The storm moved north after passing over the coast and as it moved over our area it was still a category one hurricane. We had a big field behind our house and a tree line in the distance. I remember looking out the window toward the tree line and seeing all of the trees bent way over.
The winds were strong, and we lost power as the more intense part of the storm moved through. I don't remember how long we didn't have power, but I remember it being awhile before we got it back. The heat and humidity was pretty bad the days after the storm and we ended up missing school for two weeks.
Immediately after we got power back we turned on the news and saw what happened to the coast. We saw those same landmarks that we would see when we vacationed here before the storm, most of them not where they were supposed to be. I will never forget seeing the Ocean Springs-Biloxi bridge, seeing it destroyed in the way it was didn't seem real. A lot of the damage we saw didn't seem real with the extent of the damage, but of course it was.
I didn't come down to the Mississippi Gulf Coast again until about three to four years after Katrina, and I remember not knowing where I was. A lot of the landmarks were missing, the casinos, the aquarium, businesses, all of those places we used to visit when I was younger were all gone.
Hurricane Katrina may have hit where I lived, but it really feels like I saw the storm from a distance considering the extent of the damage on the coast compared to what we had in central Mississippi.
10 years ago I remember the coast had more people, more homes along highway 90, more business, less cement slabs, and some live oaks did not look so mangled. Now, some of those same live oaks have been turned into beautiful wooden sculptures, businesses are coming back, and the bridges are nicer. This coast has changed a lot from what I remember before Katrina, but it is still beautiful to me and I am so happy to now call it my home and continue to watch it grow.