One month after the horrifying hurricane Katrina completely decimated the Mississippi Gulf Coast, life is returning with a hardened edge.
"We got the water and food coming in pretty regular now, but now we need to clean up this mess," an unidentified male coast resident in Biloxi commented pointing to the destroyed homes and debris piled twenty feet high along side the road in some places. "I see us going Old West boom town by next spring. The whole Gulf Coast, too. I mean complete with gun toting, horse riding men and women helping out the local and federal law enforcement boys in keeping the looters away. I have learned to hate a looter with my whole heart. I keep my pistol on my side all the time now. No more 9-1-1 cause my house floated away and dang near took me with it.
'Some of the older, surviving businesses are already starting to open, but close at sundown. But, those of us who are staying need jobs and right now and there's plenty of work waiting as soon as somebody in FEMA can figure out what to do next.
'I expect tent cities from Harrah's and Isle of Capri with gambling machines, floozy women, and liquor sold right down there on the water's edge, too. You know, till the boys in the capital at Jackson can decide whether to let them build 1500 feet inland. What a waste of tax dollars in another special session.
'I know those gambling bosses from up North miss their millions. Their just itching to get the money flowing again. These construction fellas coming in now to help with the rebuilding will want a place to have a drink, do a little gambling, and talk to a pretty girl, too." He pointed to the litter strewn dirty sandy beach with a bandaged hand. "Yep. Shiny tents with generators and such to fire up the one armed bandits again. They'll get the beach cleaned up for that in no time. I'll know the boom has started. Takes a whole lot of people to rebuild entire towns and bridges. Boomtown here we come.
'Us locals won't be miners, farmers, or trappers like our grandfathers were. At first, we'll be hired to clean up the garbage and misery. Gosh, this could take months, too. Job security, I suppose, flies in with each hurricane for some folks."
Perspiration poured off the grizzled face in the high heat and humid afternoon. The grayblue eyes tinged with sadness, yet hope of the steady work for months as lives are rebuilt as the Gulf Coast homes and businesses are rebuilt. One at a time.
"I worked at a local car dealer prepping cars and such. Paid okay. Use to be a welder, till I got laid off. I'm sure the FEMA boys will be needing welders. I need to get back to work and right now, too. My unemployment check won't hardly cover the old expenses I had much less these new ones. Gas prices are just plain outlaw. Can't afford to buy a new cell phone right now.
'Katrina is gone, but I still get bills in the mail everyday like everything is okay and normal. I know the boom will come. Has to come. We're all talking about it like it is Christmas coming or something. Come on boomtown."
With a case of shrink wrapped bottled water perched on a sunburned shoulder and a pistol belt wrapped around the faded, dirty blue jeans complete with a .44 caliber Ruger Blackhawk in the holster, the local middle-aged man waved a sad farewell and claimed he was returning to his tent on the concrete slab that use to be a comfortable four bedroom home. "Slabbers" as they are called because they refuse to leave their destroyed homes, travel to nearby Red Cross locations for daily food and water rations.