Home » OPINION » Columns » Analysis: Katrina insecurity over being forgotten returns

Analysis: Katrina insecurity over being forgotten returns

On Hurricane Katrina’s 10th anniversary, is it time to take off the chip?

By now, everyone knows about Mississippi’s post-storm insecurity, its angst about being overshadowed by all the media attention on New Orleans after the storm, when hundreds of Mississippians had also died, and tens of thousands were homeless.

And the chip is still there. Some residents of the Magnolia State shined it up and planted it back on their shoulders last week when President Barack Obama announced that he would visit New Orleans, but not the Mississippi Gulf Coast to commemorate the anniversary.

Maybe the best place to sample the reaction was the “Land Mass” Facebook page. It’s named after another hurricane-related sleight to Mississippi, when a Weather Channel forecaster predicted in August 2012 that Hurricane Isaac would hit “the land mass between New Orleans and Mobile.”

Some waggish Mississippians adopted the phrase as an alternate name for their home. After noting Obama would visit New Orleans this week to commemorate Katrina, the page remarked, “Of course he will, since nothing actually happened in the Land Mass. That was just an urban legend.”

Grabbing for attention was understandable in the wake of the storm, when there was so much devastation that it seemed like no one could ever get enough help. Attention was a currency that might be exchangeable for aid, especially in those first chaotic, panicky weeks of a yearslong rebuilding effort.

“With all the publicity and headlines and all for New Orleans, we could not afford to be forgotten,” former Bay St. Louis Mayor Eddie Favre recently told a crowd at a Katrina commemorative event, explaining his famous vow to wear shorts until his city recovered.

Robin Roberts, the Pass Christian hometown girl beloved in part for her advocacy of the coast after the storm, used that same word last week when she screened her new Katrina retrospective at an invitation-only event.

“I vowed to you, you would not be forgotten,” the Sun Herald quoted the Good Morning America co-anchor as telling the audience.

Former Gov. Haley Barbour, in his new book, “America’s Great Storm,” lists Roberts as one of the reporters who was “generous in making sure we were able to tell our story to a broader national audience,” along with MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mississippi natives Shepard Smith of Fox News and Kathleen Koch, formerly of CNN.

Barbour, though, seems intent on downplaying Mississippi’s post-Katrina media inferiority complex, saying other Americans eventually paid plenty of attention to the state.

“Many Mississippians were angry when their horrendous losses were ignored or, at best, underreported. I reminded them, ‘The news media doesn’t like to cover airplanes that land safely,'” Barbour writes in his introduction. “Nevertheless, as time went on, Americans began to notice the way in which Mississippians met head-on the challenges of recovery. I have come to believe that the response of the people of Mississippi to Katrina’s destruction did more to improve the image of our state than anything that has happened in my lifetime.”

With current state officials including Gov. Phil Bryant hoping to tell a positive story about the state on the storm’s 10th anniversary, that might be a better tone.

“We have borne the burden of painstaking recovery, and the fruit of our labors is remarkable,” Bryant wrote in a 10th anniversary report. “Businesses are reopened. Homes are rebuilt. Roads and bridges connect our Gulf Coast towns once again, and the economy is thriving. We have come so far, and we have come together.”

But ultimately it’s up to Mississippians to decide whether they’re ready to stop feeling slighted.

— JEFF AMY, Associated Press

About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids and 2 dogs. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.

9 comments

  1. This bitch blew through town almost 10 years ago and caused me nothing but grief. Posting this only as there are still many who do not understand what it was like to be a Mississippian living on the Gulf Coast in the days, weeks, months, years, and now almost a decade after ‘the storm that destroyed New Orleans’… I have had enough of my life stolen by this seagull. I will now use this day solely to celebrate my brother’s birthday.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/08/24/hurricane-katrina-mississippi-ignored-column/32275037/

    One last thing before I forget… Go straight to hell, Jeff Amy.

  2. No good deed goes unpunished. Mississippi had its act together so much better than Louisiana, so it was not the train wreck the media wanted to cover. That’s fine. The self help and the generosity of the good folks who came to help with little fanfare are the real story, and those of us who need to know it, do.

  3. I would personally like to see Jeff Amy go through the southern half of MS (up to Jackson!) that has scars from Katrina and then continue to “preach” about how we’re insecure in not being acknowledged in the tragedy that occured. I won’t hold my breath about it, but he needs to get off his high horse and realize that more people hurt from Katrina, and all we want is proper recognition for the fact we made it through and went back without everything being chaotic.

  4. “Inferiority complex” did I miss something about what Mississippi went through? Did we not really have much damage? Or is our inferiority complex due to our outstanding ability to land our plane safely? Making statements about how media only likes plane crashes doesn’t excuse them from not at all acknowledging that a state even exsists. Maybe the real problem is that we have reporters out there in the world who don’t know where a whole entire state is. “Um, I’d like to say maybe it’s over here by this big place shaped like a handle, umm I don’t know though. This is so hard. Can I just say land mass?” Maybe the next time the whole station and can for get every state and we can all be called land masses!!!!

  5. Analysis: Katrina insecurity over being forgotten returns, WOW REALLY!
    also Including the link for you guys as well.
    I watched a state come together and help it’s own. I watched people leaving town and properties grow high with weeds because of insurance. And while yes we came back. But the scars are so very, very visible. Take a drive down hwy 90 and you will see it. Our beautiful oaks are gone, Historical homes gone, And while the rebuilding tried to keep the history alive. They just don’t make things like they used to. My girl graduated from a brand new high school, My son goes to upper elementary school in the old high school. Front beach got a new make over, But the apartments that used to over look the beach are gone. We watched the grand get imploded on Beach Blvd. In a group setting when someone starts talking about Katrina the room gets quite. and you can see the memories running through their minds. We had to go to New Jersey the February following the storm. We lost my beloved grandmother. Sitting around the dinner table with my family they asked us how we fared through Katrina. They had heard about the devastation of New Orleans but had never heard about Mississippi or Ala. I showed my family pictures of my home town. They were shocked at the destruction. My family and I we got lucky, our house was damaged but still livable, We did not lose any loved ones. Then I watched as this community and others like it help each other over come. I saw the schools trying so hard to reopen as quick as they could. all the while we were just a blip in the media. And that’s ok. Because we knew who and what we are and how strong we could be as a community. New Orleans broke after Katrina due to man made issues. Mississippi never Broke when nature tried to and succeeded in some parts to wipe us off the map.
    As for the Facebook page The Land Mass Between NOLA and Mobile, Yes it irks us when someone completely overlooks Mississippi. You can call me waggish all you like. But being called a Land Mass on national tv. irks us, yet we have come to find humor in it as well. Please take the time to read this artical . And if you chose not to read this artical here’s a quote for you .
    “Validation is an important part of the healing process after any disaster. Losing everything is difficult enough. But struggling in silence while no one understands the magnitude of the destruction can make the suffering even harder to bear. Mississippians don’t want anyone’s pity. But they would appreciate acknowledgment — a pat on the back for the resurrection that the plucky region has managed to engineer”. -Kathleen Koch-
    http://www.usatoday.com/…/hurricane-katrina-missi…/32275037/

  6. Miranda Jamerson

    Wow, Jeff Amy. I’m not sure if you are blissfully ignorant or just a dick with a chip on his shoulder. Either way..

  7. VMiranda Jamerson

    Both.

  8. When I try to explain the “situation” to people in other parts of the country, they simply do not understand. They believe that Katrina hit NOLA, not that it hit the MS Gulf Goast. People in Jackson, MS got a more direct hit from Katrina than did NOLA. The devastation in NOLA was horrific due only to the rains that swelled the canals and broke the levees. LA officials were made well aware of the possibility of such devastation through the mock storm Pam exercises. Political corruption is responsible for the damage done due to the levee breaches following Katrina. Behavioral problems contributed to most of the social unrest following the levee failures, i.e., dope addicts needing their fix.

    Meanwhile, on the MS Gulf Coast, people were pulling together their resources and moving on with or without help. Those that could helped; those that could not help received help. No one there had time nor felt the cause to stop and point the finger.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*