The forgotten daughter

12 07 2010

For anyone who doesn’t know this, the state of Mississippi was the 20th state admitted to the Union.  The state was named after the Mississippi river which flows along it’s western boundary and has Indian roots in the name stemming from “great river”.  Mississippi’s catfish farms supply the majority of catfish in the USA’s seafood industry, while the state also offers a large supply of all seafood in the industry.  Mississippi is bordered on the North by the state of Tennessee, on the East by Alabama, on the South by Louisiana and a coastline along the Gulf of Mexico and on the West (across the Mississippi River) by Louisiana and Arkansas.  There are 5 major rivers in Mississippi and 4 major lakes.  The coastline includes large bays at the cities Bays St. Louis and Pascagoula.  It is separated from the Gulf of Mexico by the shallow

HORN ISLAND, MS GULF COAST JUNE 2010

Mississippi sound and partially sheltered by Petits Bois Island, Horn Island, East & West Ship Islands, Deer Island, Round Island and Cat Island.  I’m telling you all of this because I think many people don’t know Mississippi and it’s time you should.  Mississippi is the forgotten daughter of this nation in my opinion and Mississippi is a beautiful gem somehow kept secret from our brothers and sisters that need to know.  There’s a reason why I’m telling you all of this, so please don’t get bored and stop reading.  It’s important to me, and it should be important to you too … even if you live in a favored state of this nation, Mississippi is still your sister.

While the media does not favor this great state, Mississippi is not what they may lead you to believe.  The media wants to convince you that we haven’t moved forward since the civil war.  That our mindset remains prejudiced,

OPRAH WINFREY IS A MS NATIVE

backward, and ignorant.  They don’t want you to know that great musicians, authors and artists came from this humble state.  They don’t want you to know about the culture and beauty that is overflowing here.  The coast of Mississippi hosts beautiful beaches, classic homes, talented musicians and artists and some of the best fishing any enthusiast could ever ask for.  The coast of Mississippi was the place where Hurricane Katrina actually made landfall 5 years ago this summer.  But, the media overshadowed that fact with reporting of our neighbor and more popular city, New Orleans.  The difference, however, is that New Orleans flooded due to a failure on their local government’s part by ignoring repairs to their levee system that was decades overdue while Mississippi’s coastline faced the brunt of this (the nation’s worst

WILLIAM FAULKNER IS A MS NATIVE

natural disaster in history).  Mississippi was raped and pillaged and in areas like Bay St. Louis, Waveland, and Lakeshore the damage completely wiped out homes and businesses up to 8 miles inland and widespread destruction so deep inland that even the northernmost cities of the state faced destruction.  But, while the people of Mississippi were ignored by the government, media, and celebrities looking to lend a hand we remained strong and took matters into our own hands.  We are a resilient people who are no strangers to being the forgotten daughter, so we worked hard to do things on our own.  And we were blessed by many volunteer groups who did come to aid our efforts in rebuilding the secret gem that is the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  But once again, despite the fact that this information is important  … this is not what I am here to blog about today.  However, I am here to blog about the fact that we are yet again treated as the red haired step child of this nation and now I’m going to tell you why.

HURRICANE KATRINA SATELLITE IMAGE 8/05

JAMES EARL JONES IS A MS NATIVE

I am a resident of the resilient and beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast.  I was born and raised here.  This is my home.  I love this place.  Before Hurricane Katrina, the cities of this coast had it all … quaint little shops and pubs lining the beach, fine dining restaurants and entertainment as well as prosperous industries in seafood and tourism.  We have been struggling to rebuild what we lost and we have held fast to our hopes and dreams of recovery.  Today, in the wake of a disaster that heavily overshadows Katrina, many of us are losing our strength, our hope and our dreams and waking up to just how forgotten we truly are here.  Once again, I don’t want to write this as if any reader is living under a rock and doesn’t know the disaster I speak of, but I’m speaking of the BP Deepwater Horizon rig explosion that occurred April 20, 2010 and continues to spew millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico daily. If, by some crazy chance, you don’t know what I’m talking about you can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill .

During the last 3 months we have learned all about the damage to Louisiana’s marshes and seafood industry and Florida’s beaches…etc… We have seen footage of what is and isn’t being done to protect these popular states’ coasts ecologically and economically but we have seen and heard very little about the forgotten sister that is Mississippi.

DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL RIG EXPLOSION APR. 20,1010

Though this sentiment has been in my heart since Katrina, yesterday two incidents spawned my desire to write this blog.  First of all, I traveled my local coastline yesterday to see what the BP clean-up efforts were like, what the media was doing and what the people were doing.  What I

BP Clean Up-Waveland, MS 7/10/10

found was disappointing.  I did see some laborers raking the sand and picking up tar patties that washed upon our shorelines and placing them in garbage bags.  The workers were far and few between and absent in many areas.  I waited until they ended their work day before I went out to do my own inspection and what I found was very disturbing.  Oiled litter, tar balls and oiled water was still as far as the eye could see.  Exhausted boom remained desperately needing replacement as oil seeped past it.  It was heartbreaking and painful to see.  I wondered why, but then quickly answered my own question … because the media doesn’t care about Mississippi so the nation doesn’t know that we are being treated this way and the government doesn’t care about the people of this state so our cries will not be heard.  Last night, after a trying day of dealing with this reality, I went out to have a drink.  Much like after Hurricane Katrina, the bar was full of transients who came here to make a buck following yet

Oiled litter post clean up-Waveland, MS 7/10/10

another tragedy.  In other words, laborers for BP here to do clean-up work.  I was seated between men working on Louisiana clean-up to my left and Mississippi clean-up to my right.  They were discussing what their work days consisted of.  The comparisons were mind boggling to a point that I couldn’t hold my tongue.  In Louisiana’s clean-up efforts there are more safety measures, crews, EPA involvement, BP and

Tar balls found post clean up-Lakeshore, MS

Government employees present and more detailed demands.  Louisiana’s clean up focuses on getting the oil out of the water and the marshes as well as getting the tar balls off the coastlines in heavy detail with inspections and safety measures as well as quickly replacing used boom with new boom to continue to protect the delicate marshes and waters of Louisiana.  At the end of the day, all clean-up boats in Louisiana waters must be thoroughly cleaned before returning to their ports as to not carry oil and contaminants inland.  NONE of this is occurring in Mississippi clean-up efforts.  There are less employees working in Mississippi, the EPA & Government are not present, boats are not cleaned and oil and contaminants are carried into our ports daily and Mississippi workers even complained that they feel their efforts are in vain because of the lack of supervision and precaution that are only spreading the oil and contaminants around rather than removing them.  The skimming methods on Mississippi waters are far less professional and hardly working compared to that of Louisiana.  Booms are not being replaced in Mississippi and our marshes are not being protected.  After hearing all I could stand of these comparisons, I blurted out the obvious question “Why?” and received the answer from both sides “Because Louisiana is ecologically and economically more important to the country than Mississippi.”  Ouch.  That hurt.  But, I guess the truth hurts.  And so, I have a few photographs I took yesterday to share this truth with you.  These were all taken within a 5 mile radius of Waveland and Lakeshore, MS , just a small portion of what is going on here that I wanted to share with you because if I don’t care, who will?

EXPIRED BOOM SITS IN FRONT OF DAMAGED MARSHLAND

Oil Mixed with toxic chemicals seeping past boom in marshland

High tides push oil onto the streets

Without proper protection or prevention, oiled water moves inland

Without proper protection or prevention, toxic soup forms in our marshes

Without proper clean up, toxic soup stagnates roadside

Oiled sand post clean up every 6" or less

an all too familiar sight along our beaches...

COMMENTS ARE WELCOME.  YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A MEMBER OF THIS SITE TO LEAVE A COMMENT.  THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.
SUSAN
7/11/10

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42 responses

12 07 2010
Amy Wood

First you got blasted by Katrina. Now this. Karma is screwing the wrong crowd.

Sorry my dear….this was really a great article though.

xoxo

12 07 2010
suzrocks

Amy, it means a lot to me that you read & commented. Thank you 🙂

12 07 2010
Cathy

I, too, agree with you. My mom and I drove down the beach from Nicholson Ave to Waveland Ave today and we were shocked to see what we saw. Do you remember the short storm we had earlier this afternoon? Apparently all the clean up crew dropped everything (shovels, rakes, bags) on the ground (beach) and ran into their bus. Which I understand to do when a storm hits–but that’s not what the upsetting part is.

The storm had since pass and the sun was out shining and guess where the workers were? Still on the bus. Why weren’t they out there fixing the pop up tents (that got blown over during the storm) and picking up their rakes, shovels, and garbage bags that were strewn about?? or better yet get back to work cleaning????

I don’t know what we can do Susan—chain ourselves to BP staging center’s office on Canal road to get better cleaning service? lol

12 07 2010
suzrocks

Well, there is a lot of red tape around what clean up crews can & can’t do and when and how and there maybe some loophole as to why they weren’t cleaning at that time, not saying that’s excusable but it is what it is. But, what’s really bothering me is the differences in the clean up between LA & MS. What I learned last night over a couple of beers in a bar was enough to drive me to alcoholism… and I mean that. It outrages me that the clean up strategies and efforts are being prioritized as if BP can’t afford to give equal/quality clean up across the board! Why is Mississippi (once again) getting the shaft here? WTF!?!?!

12 07 2010
neil john brimelow

Great post, Suz! 🙂

12 07 2010
suzrocks

Yes, Neil. I hadn’t had the chance to fill you in on that little chat among clean up laborers I heard last night. It was enough to make me go postal. I swear! Can you believe that!?!? (Thanks for leaving a comment by the way & being my awesome assistant yesterday! XOXO)

12 07 2010
Ruth

Dear God… where exactly is Haley Barbour from? Has he traded us in for an endless supply of petroleum jelly (it seems he LIKES it that way)?

12 07 2010
suzrocks

I’ve noticed he’s been MIA quite a bit in all of this. When Obama came to meet with the governors of the southern states, I hear he was absent! WTF!?!? I’d like to spit some beech nut in that dude’s eye!

12 07 2010
Clark

This is horrible. I don’t know the solution other than get media attention as to how
one place is favored over another. The fact is that oil is ruining the gulf coast and MS.
is part of that. I say you forward this blog to as many people as you can across the
nation, if I know you, then you’ll never give up. I wish I had more comforting words
to offer.

12 07 2010
suzrocks

I don’t have much to offer, but I do write like there’s no tomorrow and I do intend to be heard so I’m passing this around to the best of my ability. Feel free to join me. Thanks 🙂

12 07 2010
Bratcat

I don’t live in Mississippi, but this makes me angry. We are all supposed to be equal in this country, but there is definitely a geographic bias. When will people learn? Each state has something to contribute to the country as a whole. You should not have to leave your home because of the greed and insensitivity of others. These things were not said of the people of southern Florida when Andrew destroyed the area. I was in San Francisco during the 1989 earthquake, and no one told us to move, or that we weren’t important. This is discrimination, plain and simple. And the people who say these insensitive things are bigots, in my opinion.

12 07 2010
suzrocks

Action speaks louder than words. No one is coming out & saying all this, except those workers who were just being downright honest but you won’t hear BP or the Gov saying these things. They pretend we are getting the same treatment across the board, but who cares? The media doesn’t care about MS therefore the general public doesn’t. That’s just the cold, hard truth. But you state a point that I have been desperately trying to make clear for 5 long years and now more than ever; EACH STATE HAS SOMETHING TO CONTRIBUTE! We are a valuable state and I fear that will only be realized when it’s too damn late. Discrimination…plain & simple. Thanks for commenting my friend 🙂

12 07 2010
Mike

The day after Katrina I went to see the damage to old town BSL. I remember how beautiful the bay looked. Calm, shimmering water. I told my family then that as long as there was a Bay of St. Louis, then we would again have a Bay St. Louis. If more people were able to experience our beaches and see its simple beauty. The way it looks at low tide, with sandbars running for miles. The big sturdy pelicans sitting on old pilings when you ride by the seawall. Its so majestic. So how it should be. To lose it would be not just a crime to us, but against nature. even against humanity. At what point does greed become a crime? I think we’ve hit that mark.

12 07 2010
suzrocks

I shared your belief, even stumbling around destruction when I looked at our beautiful beach I knew in my heart we would eventually recover and remain the great place that we all know and love. Yes, I do believe we’ve hit the mark 😦

12 07 2010
Eric Brooks

Wow… seem you guys never get a break in that area.

12 07 2010
suzrocks

Precisely Eric!!!

12 07 2010
Paul Harris

In 2009 I gave a talk at the Bay St. Louis Library about my book. I started off by acknowledging to those in attendance that I felt strange in that NOLA definitely got tons more attention than the Miss. Gulf area and that towns were entirely wiped out around the Gulf yet here I was talking about NOLA. I really felt for those in attendance as many had lost their homes, but I must say I found these people to be incredibly welcoming, hospitable, and upbeat. I salute all of you for your survival, beautiful scenery, and your fortitude. Great article. Keep on writing!

Paul Harris
Author, “Diary From the Dome, Reflections on Fear and Privilege During Katrina”

12 07 2010
suzrocks

Hi Paul. If I’m not mistaken, you’re Melanie’s NOLA buddy, right? Either way, very nice to have you here. The MS Coast folks are resilient people with a positive attitude. Wish I had known you were at the Library promoting your book. Sounds like something of interest. NOLA is very close to my heart. Post Katrina, my travels there have become more sentimental. It seems the only place to me that still ‘feels like home’ if that makes any sense. The book title alone speaks volumes. I love NOLA history, even the new history. Looking forward to reading. Visit my blogs any time. You’ll notice the others are fun stories. Not everything I write is on this (depressing) topic. Thanks for the comment 🙂

12 07 2010
Tina

Susan,

I will pass this along on my FB too. I have not spoken to any of the workers, but I did see EPA trucks all along HWY 90, 3 days last week. (Harrison County side aka Beach Blvd). I saw about 2/3 of the workers either sitting under tents or standing around looking confused. Although, to their credit, I was driving so I do not know how long it lasted. I feel your frustration and I am pissed too. It has been, what, 75 days now?? We had plenty of time to get our ducks in a row and protect our beaches! I am so angry they (local govt) sat back pretending that everything was peachy down here and there was nothing but a little “chocolate milk” in the Gulf, nothing serious. “Come on down, enjoy our beaches, play a little golf and spend your money”. Our own Gene Taylor even screwed us over somewhat and now is acting outraged. I am sorry there should have been outrage from day 1, not day 70. You did not hear a single LA politician making light of this situation, ever. They knew how serious it was from day 1. I am not saying they handled it perfectly, but at least they have been screaming for help from the beginning. Barbour was out having picnics in the park in NYC while the President was here meeting with the other 3 govenors. It’s an embarrassment. I am outraged, just as every MS resident, Coastal or not, should be. Whether you like the “Bay Rats”, “Coast Rats” or all the Catholic alcoholic partying sinners that live down here on the coast 😉 You should be outraged too, without the tourism and seafood industry the ENTIRE state is going to feel a huge imact on this loss. Everyone needs to be concerned. This is not just our problem.

Ok ranting over. I am sad. After Katrina the beach was pretty much all BSL and Waveland had left to offer the children for “fun” and now thats gone too.

12 07 2010
suzrocks

Tina, first of all… I am beyond disgusted with Barbour’s handling of this. It’s an outrage and embarassment. It speaks volumes when even our OWN government doesn’t seem to care!! I do see more action in Harrison than Hancock county, but even still I doubt it compares to the efforts in LA. I have to wonder, like you probably are, is our lack of state government action part of the reason why we are getting the short end of the stick? You’re right, it’s not ‘just our problem’ and I’m sad too. Thanks for the comment, Tina 🙂

12 07 2010
Chris Towles

Thank you.

12 07 2010
suzrocks

Thank you too 🙂

12 07 2010
Abe's Blog

Very interesting post, Suz. Until you pointed this out, I had not even thought about the “missing” states affected by the spill. We hear of Louisiana and Florida. But not about your state. And the same is true for Katrina. Very interesting. Keep up the voice and you will help to make people aware.

12 07 2010
suzrocks

That’s my point! Because you are removed, you have no idea. The media ignores us just like the government. It’s rather sad really. Thanks, Abe. Sorry I haven’t visited you lately. I’ve been underneath a lot over here. I’ll be over soon 🙂

12 07 2010
mike

wow this is great! you really hit the nail on the head. this is exactly how i feel as a lifelong resident of waveland.

12 07 2010
suzrocks

Thank you, Mike. It’s sad that we have to share these feelings, but at least we are not alone… now we need to stand together!

12 07 2010
Howie Charles

Dear Suz, yesterday I saw the first coverage of Mississippi. The head of a board of supervisors was asking why are we being ignored. I have written letters to my congressman and Senators. The whole of the coast is in need of help. To ignore one stretch of coastline is to invite disaster to the whole coast. Thank you for writing this blog. It is much needed. Peace, howie

12 07 2010
suzrocks

“To ignore one stretch of the coastline is to invite disaster to the whole coast”. Amen, Howie! I was thinking about this today, kind of like if you have lung cancer & colon cancer and your doctor only treats the lung cancer… what’s the point? Know what I mean!?!? Ugh! Thanks for the comment, Howie.

12 07 2010
yossarian

amen sister…

12 07 2010
suzrocks

Preachin’ to the choir, lol

12 07 2010
nella

this is incredibly well written, I can normally not get to the end of one of these without being bored to tears….it’s also heartbreaking, hard to know what to say.
kudos for this, and the sentiment.
Nella.

12 07 2010
suzrocks

Thank you, Nella. I know that it’s a long read but I felt it was important to open with a small taste of MS history because the state is so very overlooked. The point follows the history, so I was afraid people would get bored. I’m so glad you took the time to read it all.

12 07 2010
uncle jailbird

good job. nothin’ more i can say, ‘cept good luck.

12 07 2010
suzrocks

That’s about the gist of it really. Thanks Uncle J.

12 07 2010
sassi

Sorry while BSL and Waveland had a lot of this , I do not think we are being ignored on the oil spil. Bring Obama back , he is going to fix it by closing all the other oil rigs down. Just what we need. Apparently there really are fixes to close this down. He does not want them nor is he allowing the right people to stand tal.

12 07 2010
suzrocks

I’m wondering if you’re being sarcastic… I’m hoping you are, lol. Bring Obama back? For what? Another photo op. He doesn’t have to be here to make a difference. Especially with that entourage. It’s costing us too much tax $$$. Just do something other than choosing another option to break our economy like shutting down our 3rd largest industry so we’re left totally f’d! I wasn’t saying BSL & Waveland are being ignored, what I’m saying is the treatment is very different for MS than for LA. The clean up is half assed here at best compared. Not that it’s at it’s best anywhere, but it it’s at it’s worst here!

13 07 2010
Dean

Suz,

Perhaps you could forward your blog/article to various news media in the Midsouth area. Personally, I would also like to see this blog presented to the media all over the country. Mississippi people are gracious, long-suffering, forgiving folks but in cases like these (Katrina & the BP oil spill), those traits do us more harm than good.

13 07 2010
suzrocks

Very honest description of Mississippi folk. I’m going to keep investigating, updating and collecting data before I take any giant steps. I really want to get to the bottom of the differences in treatment between the two states here. BP workers are not supposed to accept interviews, so that’s going to be kind of hard unless I had the time to pose as a worker myself!!!! Truth is, though, all of those workers lives are in danger… did you know the average life span of a laborer in the Exxon Valdez clean up is age 51? Most are dead already and EV was far less toxic than this. 😦

27 07 2010
joann rettig

what an excellent story.i am not from mississippi but it has been my home for fourteen years.after katrina it just broke my heart to see all the devastation.it angered me to keep hearing about louisiana while riding around on what parts of our roads that we could and seeing whole towns pretty much gone.but like with katrina i think the people of the mississippi gulf coast can withstand anything.we are resiliant people.i’ll always be proud to call mississippi my home.

27 07 2010
suzrocks

Thank you so much for this response Joan. I agree that the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast are resilient and driven. This is an unfortunate and unfamiliar disaster for us. We will all be tested and must remain strong for decades due to this… if not for us, for the children who live here and deserve to grow up in such a great place the way that I did. Stay aware and involved, Joan! Thanks!

26 04 2017
Maggie K

7 years later….Mississippi is waiting, watching a slow motion ecocide. Every step of our food chain has bioaccumulated oil/dispersant. So, like our dolphins, we will see more micarriages, birth defects snf tumors/cancers.

Meanwhile, the Feds have admitted complicity in the massive fraud of BP’S COVERUP. The Feds created media blackout, no fly zone. EPA tacitly allowed Corexit. Feds helped night spraying and illegal dumping of toxic waste. They admitted this!!!!!
And nightly news talks about the car wreck, the robbery and the weather. Americans really are sheeple if they don’t get outraged…..and yeah, Mississippi…..just a bunch of do nothin’ bubbas, ain’t nothin’…….

26 04 2017
suzrocks

It’s great to see a heartfelt comment on this old post. Firstly, you couldn’t be more correct – and it’s infuriating! Secondly, during the time frame this occurred my job was very far out in the country past a private airport that the gov was using during this incident and outside were giant drums of corexit and planes in and out throughout the day you could see dumping corexit long after they were not supposed to. The chemicals not only masked the issue by forcing it below the surface but also made it far worse that leaving it alone. Then, later, dumped money into local government to boost the seafood industry and promote lies about it being safe and some bought into it others accepted it because it paid their bills – nobody fought. I’m sure the true amount of harm to our water, land, sea life, plant life and human life will not be discovered for at least a decade and everyone will be like – how did this happen? Kind of like the whole DuPont fiasco. 😦

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