Monday, June 30, 2008

Recommended Katrina Reading: Ellis Anderson's Saga of Mississippi's Bay Town Inn

AltTulsa made a note last week about the Katrina issue of Southern Cultures, an interesting journal published at the University of North Carolina. Since then, we had a chance to read another article in the issue and we want to recommend it in the highest terms.

The article, "Storm Journal: The Story of the Bay Town Inn," tells the completely harrowing tale of seven Katrina survivors who rode out the storm at the Bay Town Inn, a sturdy old building in Bay St. Louis that survived Hurricane Camille, a "storm of the century" that battered the area more than 30 years ago.

Writer Ellis Anderson explains in her introduction that she didn't "need a writer's imagination to fill in the details. I'm simply recording their story, interweaving five individual accounts."

And what accounts they are! The situation goes from bad to worse to absolutely terrifying in a matter of hours, with several of the survivors clinging to an oak tree after the inn blew apart. A sample:
Exhausted, the three friends tried to get their bearings. The disorientation was overwhelming. They could barely recognize each other under the sticky, black silt covering them head to toe. Even the landscape around them was no longer familiar. They might have been standing on the surface of another planet. There was no sign of the Bay Town Inn, nothing even to mark where it had stood.

As it happens, you can find more of Anderson's writing on her blog, The Language of Loss, which can be found at

As we said, it's a gripping story about the power of nature, the fragility of life, and the role of friendship and hope against incredible odds.

No comments: