One of the nice things about Mississippi, however, is that there are lots of guys with pick-up trucks, ATV's, and chainsaws, so our roads were cleared by Tuesday evening. We drove into Ellisville, our little town, after driving under dangling power masts and lines, and around great old oak trees and pecans. It was awful. I nearly cried. Century-old trees toppled, houses with holes in them, roofs crumpled like tin foil. People just walking around or sitting on their porches looking out into space. It's hot. If you've never lived down here you don't know what it's like. You lose the AC and life quickly gets miserable. You think you're under stress; try it when it's a hundred degrees outside. Our house lacked water for part of Tuesday; some parts of the county still don't have water. But we're fortunate; at least seven people died in our county, where there were no evacuation orders or anything. Seven more died in Forrest County just south of us; I'm afraid more people will die due to heat and contaminated water. A lot of people just have nowhere to go; in Mississippi so many of us have all of our kinfolk right around us. There are a lot of people whose family lived on the Coast or in New Orleans; they certainly aren't going back there.
Tonight I'm at a relative's house in Winston County, MS, a hundred or so miles north of Jones County, where they now have power again. We're going to stay here for a few days, then go back and clean up and wait I guess. I have no idea when I'll be able to go back to school; Hattiesburg was hammered even worse than Jones County from what I've been able to gather. We have no idea when we might get electricity again. Meanwhile I'm still in a sort of state of shock. I feel like I have jet-lag or something, only more intense. I feel selfish- the coast and NO are far worse; I can't imagine now what it must have been like- still is like- for people in Southeast Asia. I was reading St. Bernard of Clairvaux before the hurricane hit, in which he talks about us only knowing what the sick or hungry feel when we have been there; only then can we truly love them and 'share in their sufferings'. I think I have a faint glimmer of what he was talking about. I would like to say I've had further epiphanies and bursts of compassion, but I haven't. I've felt miserable; angry, tired, so on. I feel terrible- selfish, nasty, tired, incapable of doing anything. I'm tired of rammen noodles (I had spaghetti tonight at my grandmother's; it was great); my parents' and brotherd' nerves are as shot as mine, and it shows! But we'll survive; we're alive and our house is undamaged. Our kinfolk are all safe and accounted for; so many people still don't know what has happened to their family members. We have a place to go back to. There are so many in my state that don't. There are people in my county who don't. South Mississippi is an open wound tonight. Please pray for us.