Driving across the Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge last night, it took me a moment to realize the street lamps were out. This new bridge is beautiful both from its peak, overlooking Back Bay Biloxi, and from the shore of the Mississippi Sound, our stunning span of nature, protected by barrier islands from the greater Gulf of Mexico.
The magnetic darkness reminded me. I know what nighttime in Japan looks like right now. I know the silence. I recognize the unnerving forever they face.
Years passed after Hurricane Katrina before the bridge reopened. Our connection between Biloxi and Ocean Springs, destroyed. So much of our infrastructure completely demolished along the sleepy lengths of the Gulf Coast. No street lights. Not for years.
Losing your home is one thing. Losing your connections to your own communities is a slap in the face.
Everything you call home, either gone, unrecognizable, or out of reach.
Today, the bridge is more gorgeous than it ever could have been without Hurricane Katrina. Much of the Gulf Coast can say the same. We recovered. We are recovering.
subscribers click through for video by VisitMSCoast
Briefly passing into darkness as I reached the summit of our bridge was an echo of what Japan is suffering in the aftermath of their recent earthquakes and tsunamis. A diminished echo.
We can not compare our nation’s natural disasters to Japan’s. But our heart hears the echo, feels it reverberate, moves us to action.
New Orleans will reverberate with echoes of Japan and natural disasters nationwide this Saturday night as I join Tide Loads of Hope at Mom 2.0 Summit, so close to my old home in New Orleans and home now in Gulfport, for a rogue after-conference reading called Tide Stories of Hope. Readers and witnesses will stand together and dedicate astonishingly personal stories of hope, drawing direct lines from ourselves to those in Japan, unearthing very few degrees of separation between.
Every time I share my connection to Tide Loads of Hope with you, I am inviting you to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and feel your own connection reverberate. This is more than a story of a corporation providing free laundry services to natural disaster victims. This is more than a story of a big orange truck, a mobile laundry-mat spinning suds into dignity.
We are all at the will of nature. None of us are immune to natural disasters. This is your story as much as it has ever been mine.
Tide Stories of Hope
From Mom 2.0 Summit:
The evening’s readers - Heather Armstrong, Alice Bradley, Doug French, Liz Gumbinner, Megan Jordan,
Eden Kennedy, Jenny Lawson, Maggie Mason, Stacy Morrison, Kyran Pittman, and Ron Mattocks -
will each read one of their “stories of hope” in dedication to someone they’re connected to, either directly or through six degrees of separation, who has faced a natural disaster.
Proceeds from the reading will benefit the American Red Cross, a new and natural partner of Tide Loads of Hope. After Hurricane Katrina, my family personally experienced the relief efforts of the Red Cross and consistently recommend lending them your support both when need calls and, more importantly, in advance of need.
Text “RedCross” to 90999 to automatically donate $10 to relief efforts. I never thought I would know the surge of relief that seeing a Red Cross truck can evoke, but I do.
• • • • • • • • •
I stand at the summit of hope and share my stories with you. I invite you in to know me so that I may know you, laugh at our follies, shake our heads in disbelief, cry at humanity shaken to its core, and summon our communal strength to continue to move forward. We are in this together. We always have been.
We know this night will not last forever.
• • • • • • • • •
Read my Gulf Coast Disaster Series.
Disclosure: Tide Loads of Hope is a frequent and current sponsor of both Velveteen Mind and Story Bleed Magazine.