[It] looks like Hiroshima
after the bomb, I dont know how else to put
it, Anna Jaffe said as she groped for words
in her first-hand account of the devastation along
the hurricane-torn gulf coast at Parkvilles
Board of Aldermen meeting on Tuesday evening.
Whole areas were gone and
washed clean of debris where there used to be buildings,
Jaffe and Tom Hutsler presented
the board with a video documentary of their trip
to Ocean Springs, Mississippi where they served
as ambassadors for the city.
Parkville officially adopted Ocean
Springs as its sister city in the aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina and pledged to do everything in its power
to assist the city in its hour of need. Jaffe and
Hutsler were among seven people who joined the convoy
of three tractor trailers loaded with 75 tons of
supplies and warm wishes for the hurricane-ravaged
The volunteers remained in the region
for nine days to offer their assistance and helped
distribute an additional 150,000 pounds of supplies
to other distribution sites along the coast. There
were tent cities strung along the entire coast,
as the group ventured as far east as Coden, Alabama
and as far west as Past Christian, Mississippi.
Nearly three-quarters of the 8,000
homes in the gulf coast city suffered major damage
from the hurricane with approximately 1,000 expected
to be a total loss.
Mayor Kathryn Dusenbery announced
plans to bring another shipment of rakes, shovels,
and other items to assist in the clean-up stage
in the coming weeks. She urged people to donate
cases of bleach among other items.
Jaffe and Mike Horine of Curious
Eye Productions, which produces the citys
content for its cable access channel, accompanied
the group to detail the destruction. The production
company will air a video documentary of the area
on Channel 2. After the presentation, the trio recounted
tales from their excursion.
For those who cannot understand
the mindsets of those who did not flee, they reported
that residents in the path of the storm measured
the danger of Hurricane Katrina by the damage suffered
under Hurricane Camille in 1969. Gulf coast residents,
who are no strangers to hurricanes, reasoned that
they were safe to remain in areas that did not suffer
major damage by the last major hurricane to strike
the coastline. But, too many reasoned wrong.
The president of the local Artists
Guild and her husband waited out the storm that
battered the city for 12 hours on their rooftop
after the home was overcome by the storm surge.
With the water menacing at the roofs edge,
the couple clung for their lives against the force
of 125 mile per hour winds in the face of pounding
waves. Others were forced to brave the waters and
swim for the safety of neighboring homes while dodging
debris when their homes were overcome.
Jaffe was quick to clarify that
the storm surge, which reached 30 feet, was not
like a tsunami or a wave. She likened it to rapidly
rising flood waters that crushed everything in its
path and lifted homes from their foundations and
shred the dwellings as they were battered with ten
foot waves on top of the surge. A casino was left
resting on the roof of a several story tall Holiday
Inn in nearby Gulfport, Mississippi.
The storm left 900 square miles
of land along three states in ruin. The demolition
stretched for 300 linear miles along the coast and
extended another 300 miles inland. The group reported
that debris still lined the streets in Jackson,
Mississippi, which is three hours north of the coast.
Katrina was still a Category 2 Hurricane when it
hit the capital city.
To understand the immense force
of the waters, animal carcasses were found that
were one-half inch thick and appeared as though
they had been run over by a steam roller. The death
toll continues to mount on a daily basis as recovery
teams sift through the rubble. At last count, the
death toll in Mississippi alone hovered around 300.
Everyone lauded the tireless efforts
of State Representative Jason Brown, who accompanied
the group as a representative of Platte County.
He worked to the point of exhaustion,
D.J. Adamson, who initially spearheaded
the relief effort from Parkville, was among the
Parkville residents who made the trip. Sergeant
Jon Jordan of the Parkville Police Department and
his son, Jeremy, also assisted in the effort.
No matter how hard all of
us worked, it did not seem to make a dent,
Everywhere you turned people
were in need, she continued.
There was no end in sight,
Hutsler added, It was simply overwhelming.