Woman Searches For Friends In Waveland Ruins - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/14/05

Woman Searches For Friends In Waveland Ruins

Cathy Collins wanted us to see Coleman Avenue and the beach.

"Stand out here and look," she said to a WLOX News crew. "It's just nothing."

Houses that once had breathtaking views of the Mississippi Sound no longer existed.

A stunned Collins repeated herself, "It's just nothing."

Collins has been to Waveland hundreds of times to meet with clients. This visit -- 16 days after Katrina -- was to find some of those clients, and digest the magnitude of the hurricane's fury.

"It's worse" than Collins imagined. "It's worse."

The area looked so foreign to her. Nothing downtown was recognizable. Nothing was the same.

"It's the worst thing I've ever seen. It's unbelievable," she said.

An empty slab in the middle of Coleman Avenue used to be Waveland City Hall. It didn't make it. And neither did any other building on the road that used to be the heartbeat of the city. So when you look across the street, you obviously won't see a structure. However, you will find Brian Mollere, and what he's created, a makeshift Waveland Town Hall.

"It started because the day after the storm I was one of the only local people down here," he said while sweeping broken glass off his land.

A variety of volunteers helped Mollere clean his property. What used to be a shop downstairs and a home upstairs quickly became the hub for nearby survivors. Some neighbors would drop by to pick up supplies. Others left word about missing friends. Mollere was their conduit. They became his link to better days ahead.

"It's kind of therapeutic to have people like this helping," he said. "I help other people. As you can see, we have all this stuff for people. So it's just like therapy, I guess that's what you call it."

Cathy Collins hoped a walk along Coleman Avenue would provide her own therapy. Collins lost her own home in Biloxi. So this trip to find friends was supposed to be a positive experience. Instead, it simply reinforced the obvious. Hurricane Katrina was a monster that terrorized the entire Mississippi gulf coast.

"This was my territory. And there's nothing," she said while overlooking the wasteland along Coleman Avenue. "I didn't know what to expect. But it's worse than I could have imagined. It's awful, just awful."

by Brad Kessie

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