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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Quantam Tour Of Gulfport After Katrina

There is a company in Savannah, GA called Quantam Tour. They have put together a virtual tour of Gulfport, MS after the hurricane damage. This was done after a lot of the rubble was cleared, but it does give a very accurate idea of the conditions. The area looks more like it was bombed than a hurricane hit it.

Gulfport is somewhere around 80 miles east of New Orleans, and Alabama has areas that look similar. An incredible amount of damage stretches far inland in Mississippi as well.

If you have not yet given substantially, please take the tour. There are donation links on the same page.

Please understand a few things also. First, insurance policies don't cover water damage. They do cover wind damage and water damage resulting from wind damage (e.g. rain after your roof blew off), but not groundwater damage. There are many people who never even thought of flooding who were flooded out. Flood insurance isn't even available in some of these areas.

Furthermore, in many areas insurance companies will once again be raising rates and imposing high deductibles for new coverage. Because of this, many people and companies will have trouble raising the money to rebuild homes and businesses. Second, the water systems in some of these places will require rebuilding/flushing and the groundwater might be contaminated. People who relied on wellwater might not have drinkable water until those systems are flushed or purified.

The extent of damage from a hurricane is unprecedented in modern times. For many people, staying in the area isn't even an option. We need to help in an unprecedented way.

I am Greg Kurth,
owner of Quantumtour. I wanted to thank you for posting the link to my site. I hope many people view it and begin to help.
I want to post what I noted while there. I arrived on Saturday evening around 7PM in Gulfport after leaving the Savannah area around 9:30 AM with a minivan loaded with water, food and clothing. The drive was uneventful until I arrived in the Pensacola area and tried to get fuel. Found none available. Was concerned about this problem with a large number of miles still left to cover. I continued into Alabama and again tried to get fuel. Found a fuel stop called "Oasis". They had fuel but were limiting the amount to $25.00 per vehicle. The line was about 20 cars long and was being monitored and controlled by staff. Topped off the tank and headed on the Gulfport. Once in Gulfport I expected to be stopped from entering "the blast zone" as I call it as it looked like a WWII city that had been bombed for weeks. I hadn't planned on shooting a virt tour but when i saw how the damage was everywhere I felt the need to create one to show how far reaching the damage was. I shot 2 scenes before it was too dark to get good images. I then returned to the van and began to look for lodging. Drove east on I-10 and stopped at a number of hotels looking for a room for the night. All hotels were full and had no power. Parking lots were full of power company trucks. Then began driving north on Hwy 49 thinking that further inland the damage might be less. This was not the case. As I headed north on 49 in the dark I could tell trees were down and had been cut right at the edge of the lane. In the dark I couldn't tell the extent of the damage. I arrived in Hattiesburg an hour and a half later and began looking for a room. Once in the city I could see many roofs were damaged and there was no power here either. Also all fule stations were closed. I spoke with police and found out the entire state was under a curfew between 7PM and 8AM and there was limited fuel here but the stations wouldnt open intil the morning. When I asked which stations had fuel the officer said you will know by the lines and to get there early to wait. No rooms. Ended up sleeping on the ground in a closed state park. Trees down everywhere. Spread a balnket and tried to get some shuteye. Slept poorly even with though I was dog tired. Woke about 5:30 and drove back to Hattiesburg for the fule line wait. At around 7AM the station owner arrived and I noted he was wearing a sidearm in a shoulder holster. He began barking orders at the line and said they would open as soon as staff arrived. An hour later they opened after filling all employees cars first and the line began to move one car at a time being let under a police line tape by a staff member.
Fueled and headed back towards Gulfport. Then I saw the damage an hour inland was still extensive with trees down everywhere and power poles snapped in half. I arrived back near the waterfront and had no problems from the military or police getting in. It semed everyone was either still in shock or the authorities still did not have enough staff to keep people out. There weren't many people there anyway. The town near the waterfront looked deserted with only police, rescue and an occasional military vehicle passing. No looters. There really was nothing left to loot. It seemed that all contents of buildings were laying n the street. The smell of the city was the smell of death. As I walked I kept getting whifs of decomposure. I shot the rest of the scenes on that day. As the sun got higher the heat became an issue. 3 hours into my walk I realized I had no water with me and felt the effects. At this point I want to point out a realization I had about New Orleans... Those poor people who had been rescued from the flood only to be dropped on a scorching hot freeway overpass must have suffered terribly. It was about 95 degrees and I had occasional shade to get in. they had none.
I was able to obtain a bottle of water from an Army team who had begun cleaning up the debris on the beach. After I shot all the scenes you see in the tour I began walking back towards the van about 4 blocks inland after finding a way thru the blockade of tractor trailers that had washed up against the homes. Houses had been marked with large spray painted Xs. Black for homes with dead in them Orange for homes without. I later found out from rescue teams that the houses were being searched and marked but the dead were not removed a that time. Instead they were marking the locations of dead with a GPS to return to remove the bodies later.
As I bagan to drive east on what was left of Hwy 90 I had to switch back and forth from one side of the hiway to the other to avoid debris. I saw driveways off Hwy 90 that used to lead to homes that had survived numerous storms over the years including Camile. The were all gone. small piles of bricks were all that remained. Even foundations were ripped up and broken into large chunks.
Keep in mind that2 to 3 blocks inland there was a wall of debris consisting of cars, and pieces of homes that had to be navigated thru to get access to the inland areas. As I drove down Hwy 90 I was stopped by 2 Texas Sherrifs on horseback who informed me that I had to leave the area. They had just arrived and seemed to be crearing the area.
I found a way to get thru the debris blockade and began looking for residents who might need the meager supplies I had brought. I found a housing area and entered it weaving thru all the downed trees. As I approached homes and knocked on doors many people told me they had what they needed but pointed out homes of neighbors who did not. I gave supplies to those who needed them. At one home I told a lady that I was there from Georgia and brought supplies. I habded her 2 cases of water and a smallbox of food and I saw her eyes tear up. She began to cry and as I walked away I did too.
In closing I would like to say to everyone. This is the worst catastrophy I have ever seen and I want people to keep in mind the next one could be your city. Please do anything you can to help.
I have posted links on http://www.quantumtour.com that will accept donations and you can volunteer services to.
Please, please use them.
Greg Kurth
A&G Productions LLC
Quantum Tour
Greg, you made me cry. Thank you for making the tour to try to get the word out about what has really happened.

I went there too, to search for a friend, and I can second what you say. People were incredibly helpful and kind, and they accepted help with reluctance, always worrying more for others who had less.
MAMA, Thank you for getting the tour out there in people's faces. Frankly Im pissed at the press for staying on New O. New O wasn't damaged by Katrina, it was damaged by corrupt politicians who did nothing to build levees higher and stronger. I want to say that people in Miss are mad and the ones I met and spoke with made me cry too. We all should cry and we all should contact our govt. officials and rag at them for only covering their own asses in the press by staying on the New O topic. FEMA and even the bush administration should be ashamed. They simply are riding the New O story for publicity and trying to look like they care. The people of Mississippi know better.
Greg Kurth
Cool Blog, I never really thought about it that way.

I have a Hurricane Katrina blog. It pretty much covers hurricane related stuff.

Thank you - and keep up the thoughts!
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