Gulf Coast Cleans Up After Hurricane Nate Comes Ashore

Oct 9, 2017
Originally published on October 9, 2017 6:19 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Another hurricane hit the U.S. this weekend. It is now called Tropical Depression Nate, and it's dumping heavy rain along the East Coast. The Gulf Coast, meanwhile, is cleaning up, and NPR's Debbie Elliott joins us from Mobile, Ala., Hi there, Debbie.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: Good morning.

GREENE: So we should say this was a dangerous storm. I mean, in Central America, 22 people were killed. It then made landfall as a hurricane on the Mississippi shore. So no lives were lost in the United States it sounds like, which is a very good thing, but what kind of damage happened?

ELLIOTT: You know, flooding, power outages, downed trees, all the things that come with a Category 1 hurricane. But generally, officials from Louisiana all the way to Florida are relieved not to have seen the massive destruction that the country has, you know, been dealing with this hurricane season in Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico. We had, you know, Harvey, Irma and Maria come through.

GREENE: So four different states, though, declared emergencies. I mean? Even though it was Category 1 and spared the worst, I mean, that's a large part of the country. Did they all feel the impact of this?

ELLIOTT: You know, some more than others. I think Louisiana was on the weaker side of the storm, so New Orleans was spared even though they were prepared for some flooding. The damage was mostly to the east of where Nate came ashore there in Mississippi. You know, I spent some time yesterday in Bayou La Batre, Ala., which is a little fishing village near the Mississippi state line. It had been devastated in Katrina and has suffered a lot of hurricanes over its history. And the town's fishing pier was just buckled up. There was water still on roadways, power outages, several seafood processing plants were flooded. But it was this familiar routine of mucking up and drying out. On Portersville Bay, I spoke with Henry Robertson. He had moved his travel trailer out ahead of the storm, and he came back to clear up all the stuff that had washed in on his property.

HENRY ROBERTSON: Well, we had a storm surge about probably eight feet or something. It wiped out all the piers along the way. Most of them are piled up back there in the woods and put all this marsh grass up in here. So we been cleaning up.

ELLIOTT: You know, he said he found dead sea birds that had blown in and a couple of dead nutria, which is kind of like a big swamp rat. So it's not pleasant work.

GREENE: No, it doesn't sound that way. Are people getting sick of hurricanes this season? I mean, this is crazy.

ELLIOTT: You know, people do feel a little like, oh, not another one. I stopped in to see Paul Nelson. He's a retired shrimper and oysterman in Coden, Ala. I have followed him ever since Hurricane Katrina, which he really suffered in. And I found him just out raking up, doing what he knows to do in front of his mobile home. But he was also sort of ruminating about the warm Gulf of Mexico and fearing that this cycle of hurricanes is only going to get worse.

PAUL NELSON: If we don't have a winter this winter, we're going to be living in the tropics (laughter) because the water is what controls it all. So we got to sit around and think, yeah, what is going on? You know, people talk about it all the time about climate change. Me, I'm a firm believer in it.

GREENE: Well, Debbie, I mean, the region, we should say, came to almost a standstill economically during this storm. I mean, are businesses getting back up and running?

ELLIOTT: You know, some are. The casinos are back open in Biloxi for instance, but ports are still closed from Mobile all the way to the Florida Panhandle. So there's still more that needs to happen.

GREENE: All right. NPR's Debbie Elliott reporting for us this morning from Mobile, Ala. Debbie, thanks.

ELLIOTT: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.