After the aftermath |

After the aftermath

Alpine Enrichment Program tells South Mississippi's Hurricane Katrina story

Allison Plean

— Brianne Powell, an adjunct instructor at Colorado Mountain College, received an alarming phone call from her high school friend the day Hurricane Katrina hit South Mississippi.

Her friend described the beginning of the storm that devastated Ocean Springs, Miss., and the surrounding area.

On Wednesday, Powell will present “Hurricane Katrina — South Mississippi’s Story,” a multimedia presentation addressing the reasons why some residents did not evacuate and what people are doing to rebuild their homes and businesses.

Powell will show video of the hurricane that was broadcast on WLOX-TV, the news station for South Mississippi. She also will play recordings of 911 calls made by residents who did not survive the storm.

Powell was 8 years old when her family moved to Ocean Springs, where she lived for 17 years. Her parents, Debbie and Tom Powell, still live there. After evacuating because of the hurricane, they returned to find their town in ruins. They also will be at the presentation to answer questions.

The story of South Miss–issippi is a sad one.

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“People that stayed were killed,” Brianne Powell said. “The other people came back to nothing.”

She said it’s important to discuss the effects of Katrina on South Mississippi because that region hasn’t been the subject of much media coverage.

“People don’t hear about Mississippi because there is nothing to hear about,” Powell said. “Because there is nothing left.”

Powell thinks many people did not evacuate South Mississippi because they were not allowed to bring their pets to shelters and that others thought the islands directly off the coast of Mississippi would shield them from the storm.

Many residents thought Kat–rina would not be as damaging as 1969’s Hurricane Camille, Powell said.

Camille was a Cat–egory 5 storm. Katrina was a Category 4 hurricane when it made landfall.

“Camille was the one that everyone judged all hurricanes to,” Powell said.

Powell’s parents almost did–n’t evacuate because the city gave them only 12 hours notice. There had been false evacuations for previous hurricanes, it was Debbie Powell’s birthday, and Tom Powell was concerned about being at work.

Debbie and Tom Powell were lucky. Their house was one of only three in their neighborhood that wasn’t flooded.

One of their neighbors who didn’t evacuate was cleaning out his gutters when he heard a loud roar and turned around to see a 30-foot wall of water coming toward him.

He climbed up and held on to a nearby fence and waited 20 minutes until the water receded.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency reports there are 31,000 families affected by Katrina living in temporary mobile homes.

The Powell family has been fortunate, but the devastation of their hometown remains, and it could take 20 years before South Mississippi fully recovers from the hurricane.

What: “Hurricane Katrina — South Mississippi’s Story,” an Alpine Enrichment Program presentation by Colorado Mountain College When: 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday Where: Bogue Hall, Room 300, on the CMC campus Cost: Free Call: 870-4432