ALA 2006: Hancock County
This was my first trip to New Orleans, so I cannot compare post-Katrina NO to pre-Katrina NO. The area of NO that I saw (convention area, French Quarter) is up and running for tourists; and need the tourist dollars. People I spoke with again and again asked how those outside NO saw them, and how current events may influence people's travel plans. I was asked, would the National Guard make people more likely or less likely to come? They spoke with concern about less people shopping in stores and going on tours.
I did not do any of the NO Katrina volunteer work or NO area tours. What I did see along the route to and from the airport was debris and areas that looked like no-mans land; buildings still standing, signs up, and as you got closer, all boarded up and closed. Many of the bloggers who went to NO did those things, saw those places, and can speak about how NO still needs help.
Of course, NO is not the only place that needs help.
My place of work has partnered with the Hancock County Library System in Mississippi. My library director, assistant director, and a number of library staff who were in NO for ALA drove to Hancock County, met with the staff, and toured the area. Hancock County was directly hit by Katrina.
Imagine driving down a street, thinking, it's all trees... because the houses are all gone, just the slabs. The debris has been cleared away, but it's spooky, with the ghosts of houses. And there are the houses still standing, with the insurance companies refusing coverage, and children being bused over an hour to school, and basic services still not available. The need for aid, money, and volunteers remain.
Take a look here at the Hancock County branches before.
Now: Bay St. Louis, now open and operational (tho inside some areas are not open to the public.)
Kiln Library: fully operational
Pearlington Library (shared library with school); The building is being used to house volunteers, and they are using a bookmobile: Waveland Library:More photos here.
Hancock County Library received one of this year's Building Better Communities award from SirsiDynix.
More photos will be posted at Flickr.