After days of destruction, Hurricane Harvey continues its path into the heartland of America. Authorities are calling the destruction and flooding in Houston and along the Texas coast some of the worst in US history.
The coverage of the recovery will dwindle from the news, but our hearts go out to those affected, who will be struggling for years to put their lives back together. It’s hard to imagine now, but in time, life in Texas will get back to normal. And for proof, all it takes is a look to the east to a Katrina casualty: Biloxi, Mississippi.
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Imagine the impact of 125 mph winds and a 22-foot storm surge on an unprotected beach. In Biloxi, Mississippi on August 29, 2005 this was the cataclysmic reality when Hurricane Katrina ripped through the city.
The devastation was horrific, and even though it’s been more than a decade, Biloxi is still healing. On a recent visit we saw first hand a small but encouraging sign that the city is on the mend: dead, beachfront trees carved into playful sea creatures.
We visited Biloxi a year after Katrina, and were appalled by the destruction. What had been mile after mile of beachfront antebellum mansions, creole cottages, and stately oak trees was now vacant lots with waist-high weeds. Katrina’s savage winds didn’t discriminate, and most buildings, new and old alike, were leveled to their foundations. Block after block of centuries-old oak trees were ravaged and dead or dying.
But today, thanks to local grit and determination, new construction lines the beachfront with homes and businesses replacing the hurricane’s destruction. And many of the dead trees have been transformed from stark reminders into whimsical art.
Biloxi’s Katrina Sculpture project began in 2007, when city government approached Mississippi chainsaw artist Dayton Scoggins to sculpt marine animals on the standing dead trees in the median of Beach Boulevard. Scoggins carved the initial five, and later, Florida artist Marlin Miller stepped in to volunteer his skills to carve the remaining works.
There are over 20 of the carvings in the median, and the Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that the sculptures are one of the top attractions on the Mississippi Coast.
This public art project is a classic example of lemons to lemonade, and a visual reminder that every end is a new beginning.
James & Terri