PICAYUNE, Miss. — I have been through most major hurricanes to hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast in my job as a reporter for the Picayune Item.
Those that stick out in memory include Hurricane Camille in 1969. It was small but considered one of the most powerful storms to hit the U.S. mainland. It killed almost 400 people and devastated the Gulf Coast. There were winds over 200 mph, and the storm completely leveled the city of Pass Christian near here.
One of my close friends was killed during the clean-up after the storm. He touched a downed high-voltage line.
Then there was Hurricane Katrina, in 2005, which killed several thousand in Mississippi and Louisiana, and devastated New Orleans, which is only 45 minutes south of Picayune on Interstate 59 and Interstate 10. It virtually wiped out three small cities on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Katrina was big and powerful, and its storm surge did most of the damage along the coast.
So, how, you might ask, was Isaac different?
Hurricane Isaac wobbled on shore near Houma, La., not knowing where it was headed, and stalled. Pearl River County, Miss., where Picayune is located, was in the northeast quadrant, the area where winds are supposed to be highest and rains the most torrential.
While winds were in the 60 mph-range, rain was the hallmark of Isaac. From Tuesday night until Thursday, as I write this, band after band swept over the county with stiff winds but mostly torrential rains. The rains, which aren't supposed to let up until Friday morning, lashed homes and businesses and swept across vacant streets in sheets.
And it kept on and on. I realized that I know now how Noah felt.
When the rain doesn’t stop, you realize the creeks that flow through town will be gorged with runoff, and people you know - have known all your life - will be flooded and forced out of their homes.