A TREE FALLS AND NEIGHBORS DRAW TOGETHER

HATTIESBURG, MISSISSIPPI. SEPTEMBER 11, 2005 —The fury of Hurricane Katrina's winds brought down what we think was the biggest tree in Hattiesburg. It was a large, maybe a century-old, water oak in our front yard. It didn't hit our house, but did partially damage our neighbor's. We were happy to find that no one was hurt, but we were very sad to lose that tree. It had been there so long. What stories could it tell?

After the storm was over, my husband, Bob, and I went outside to look for our neighbors. We asked, "Are you OK? Can we help? Can you help us? Who else needs help?" During the two weeks that followed the storm, when we didn't have power, we shared stories, frustrations, food, telephones, and information. We volunteered with the Salvation Army and Red Cross. Our front porch became a place for neighbors to sit and talk, to enjoy the night air, which was cooler than inside our homes. We admired the brilliant stars before the streetlights came back on. Political, economic, and religious differences didn't matter.

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LIVING OUTWARD
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