Long Beach won't give up - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Long Beach won't give up

September 27, 2005

Long Beach, MS -- It’s been more than a month since hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast, and some people there still haven’t seen their demolished homes.

This area is a little west of Biloxi, closer to where Katrina’s eye hit. We’re right along Highway 90, which runs next to the Gulf of Mexico. This part of Long Beach remains closed to the public, and requires a a special permit from the city to get in.

Many of these are reserved for contractors and insurance adjusters, but some people who live here are getting in to get a look at the destruction.

As huge trucks haul away tons of debris from the heart of Long Beach, Hurricane Survivor Sheryl Hettler looks for the little things.

“This is what’s left.” What’s left isn’t much. So even a 20-year old bottle of perfume… “Still smells pretty good.” A simple drinking glass… “These are the little miracles that you find.” A globe without a stand to hold it up… “I had a globe that was three times bigger than this…” These are the little things that mean the world. “It’s amazing some of the stuff you can find if you just dig.”

But for every little thing Sheryl finds, “I wish I could find my tools. Oh, this might be my digital camera,” there are countless things, priceless things, she’ll never see again. “I wish I could find my daughter’s photo album. That’s something I really cherish, but that’s gonna be impossible.”

And so this mother turned to her own mother for comfort, for simple maternal philosophy to get her through each day. “My mother said I’m just not meant to have all these things.”

But she is meant to survive. “I’m gonna make it. It’s just a little hard right now when it’s everything.”

Everything, every little thing, flattened-- carted off and dumped like so much junk. But everybody, Sheryl and her friends from this old neighborhood, are okay. “It was wonderful. It would be nice to see it all come back.”

The soul of the heart of Long Beach is one thing that lives on. Two to three blocks north of here, everything is destroyed. Go another two to three blocks, and some homes are standing, but they’ve been condemned.

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