Unrep MSC to amphib

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Katrina psych: Survivors moving off Gulf Coast

The full impact of Katrina is just beginning to be felt along the Gulf Coast. The psychological toll is beginning to show among those who can afford to get out. Let me explain what I've seen.

A couple of months ago I was down in Pensacola, attending a family funeral. and got to talking with a long-time friend of the family about the impact of Katrina. I was describing the damage we had seen over in Biloxi and asked whether people will be rebuilding on the coast. His response took me by surprise. "I think we're just starting to see what will be the second wave of damage down here," he said. "A lot of people will not rebuild and many who didn't suffer all that much will be getting out of the area as soon as they can. They simply don't have the heart to go through another hurricane."

Recently my sister, a long-time resident of the Mississippi coast, announced her plans to pull up stakes and move -- away from the hurricane zone. Mountains, piedmont or someplace where the threat of storm surge and high winds are either absent or too remote to spend much time worrying about. She just wants to not have to worry about losing everything. Again.

And here's an article from New Orleans of other survivors who are moving away. And it's the people you'd like to keep who are leaving:
Ivan Echegarrua, vice president of sales for Security Van Lines in Kenner, said the overwhelming majority of his customers are headed for the exits. Because people who can afford to hire moving companies tend to be educated and affluent, Echegarrua said, the trend portends trouble not only for the future market for his business but for the economic health of the New Orleans region.

Doctors and other professionals find their patient and client bases have shriveled, he said. Senior citizens say they cannot endure another harrowing hurricane season, or that relatives are pressing them to resettle outside the strike zone.

"We're seeing a lot of outflow, not much inflow," Echegarrua said.

Paul McCord, president of Crescent City Moving and Storage in Metairie, an agent of the national moving firm Bekins, said he finds it especially alarming to see lifelong New Orleanians giving up on the city.

"That scares you," McCord said. "They would not desert New Orleans if they have any other opportunity."
As I say, I don't think we know the full impact of Katrina yet. But it's beginning to show...

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