Route 90, west of Biloxi, is a real highway to hell. It leads to the town of Long Beach and Emergency Management Director Joe Spraggins — apparently just in time.
“It was perfect timing,” says Spraggins. “I don't know, maybe God did something or had something to do with that.”
He has 10,000 to 15,000 people to keep fed in Harrison County and his two aid centers are low on supplies. He worries he'll be out of food right around the time the rest of us sit down for Thanksgiving.
“I think America doesn't realize that we still need help,” says Spraggins.
Long Beach is also where it was reported a British billionaire was giving tens of millions of dollars to fix the town.
“They were kind of all just giddy about all this money,” says Long Beach Mayor Billie Skellie.
Only Wednesday we learned that was a bit overstated. Instead of $88 million, the gift is for $1 million.
“We could have probably rebuilt the whole town,” says Skellie. “But I appreciate what they are doing.”
And we're grateful on this trip if we can just find our way. Normally a GPS is a pretty handy thing to have on the road. Except here in the wake of Katrina it can be frustrating, especially when, where the machine tells you to go and where you actually can go are very much at odds.
Once back on track, we found Carole Baker digging in her Pass Christian yard, looking for anything to save. She can walk you through her house, but you need a lot of imagination when she tells you, “This is the dining room.”
Our final stop was a place many around the country feared destroyed.
Legend has it, if you stand in the shadow of the 500-year-old Friendship Oak with someone, you will remain friends for life. Not only did the tree survive, it continues to grow — just as this community aims to grow and be strong again.