Five years later, we are thankful

Published 12:07 am Sunday, August 29, 2010

Five years after the powerful storm surge and battering winds of Hurricane Katrina came ashore, our state, region and community remain changed.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast and New Orleans were the most changed physically as the storm obliterated portions of each area, leaving a deadly wake of destroyed lives and property.

Both areas are slowly recovering.

Miles from the epicenter of the disaster, the Natchez area was changed, too. Rather than being harmed by the storm’s effects, our area has become better, stronger and more diverse in the years following Katrina.

First, our community found out just how focused it can be on helping those in need. Hundreds of volunteers from all across the area opened up their hearts, wallets and houses to help storm evacuees.

For those who worked in the shelters and in other ways with the evacuees, those times remain some of the most rewarding of their lives, as they were able to give back to Americans in need.

Economically, our area saw a quick shot in the arm, as our area was one of few with electricity and supplies after the storm. That combined with the hundreds and hundreds of evacuees in the area, boosted our economy — at least short-term.

But perhaps most beneficial to our community has been the new people who fled the storm, wound up in Natchez and fell in love with the place.

From artists and chefs to salespeople to school workers, the new names and faces that adopted our community run the gamut of backgrounds.

Each of them, like the memories of the storm itself and the days following, helps serve as a tiny thread in the fabric of our community.

Katrina changed us all and, here at least, it made us better.