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Gone But Not Forgotten, Isaac Leaves Messy Wake


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon. The remnants of Hurricane Isaac have now moved north, dumping heavy rain in Arkansas and Missouri. In Louisiana and Mississippi, it will take many weeks - if not months - to clean up the mess from the flooding and torrential downpours. As NPR's Russell Lewis reports, residents there are taking things kind of in stride, even as they need to rebuild yet again.


RUSSELL LEWIS, BYLINE: A full three days after Isaac blasted ashore in Waveland, Mississippi, the surf was still churning.


LEWIS: Three-foot waves crash over the seawall, sending a spray of water high into the air. Normally, the Gulf of Mexico here is as smooth as glass. Waveland, Mississippi is no stranger to monster storms. Seven years ago, the eye of Hurricane Katrina hit, bringing with it a three-story-tall storm surge which obliterated everything for miles. Some people rebuilt, others left town.


LEWIS: And then, like today, some people face that same dilemma. Not far from Waveland is a fishing community called Lakeshore. It's peaceful, quiet. Canals cut through the marshy bayous. Houses on this spit of land are all new and all built on stilts. But Mike Cramer says it's not a new community.

MIKE CRAMER: When we came back from Katrina, there was nothing. This whole street, there was not one residence left, not anything. Nothing but slabs. So, it was nothing. So, this time was really good compared to that.

LEWIS: It took Cramer and his wife Mary four years to decide whether to rebuild after Katrina. Yesterday, they were back at their elevated home which had minimal damage.

CRAMER: A lot of people's thoughts were there wouldn't be another storm like for 35 years. Which we didn't have another Katrina, but the real bad storms had not come that often in the past. You had Betsy and then you had Camille and you had Katrina, and they were pretty far apart. But might be getting a little closer together now, I don't know.


LEWIS: The biggest inconvenience from Isaac for the Cramers has been a lack of electricity, but that was about to change as power crews drove onto his block.

CRAMER: Man, we're glad to see you.

JAMES TERRELL: How you doing?

CRAMER: Good, good. How you doing?


CRAMER: Could have been a lot worse.

TERRELL: Let's see if we can get y'all some power.

CRAMER: Well, good.

TERRELL: Is there any way you can get a hold of your neighbors?

LEWIS: James Terrell said it wouldn't take long to get the power restored. He understands why people keep coming back to the water's edge. Terrell's only lived in Louisiana and Mississippi.

TERRELL: Most people grew up here. They love it. They used to it. That's their way of life and they love it. You know, you got the water, fishing. It's a nice area to fish and hunt. And it's just hard to get away from it when you do it all your life.

LEWIS: There's something about this place in Mississippi. People love this land and the culture. Still, Terrell says, as bad as Isaac was for some...

TERRELL: You can't let it overwhelm you. You just do what you can. Life's always a struggle, you just do the best you can.

LEWIS: For those who live here along the coast, he says, they'll get by. Russell Lewis, NPR News, Gulfport, Mississippi. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As NPR's Southern Bureau chief, Russell Lewis covers issues and people of the Southeast for NPR — from Florida to Virginia to Texas, including West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma. His work brings context and dimension to issues ranging from immigration, transportation, and oil and gas drilling for NPR listeners across the nation and around the world.

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