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Judge Taylor sees Katrina coping from new view

Judge Michael Taylor had been south and seen the devastationsince Hurricane Katrina, but it took seeing it again under workingconditions to make him realize just how much recovery is still leftto go on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The circuit court judge from Brookhaven said was recentlyassigned to be a visiting judge over a case involving an electionscontest in a Hancock County supervisor’s race. He had heard aheadof time that the courtroom would be a little different than what heis used to.

“I talked to them and they’d told me it would be in a FEMAtrailer,” he said. “But when I got there, there was a temporarygovernment complex made of around 40 trailers in a grid pattern,and there was a sign identifying the trailers by number.

“Circuit court was in Trailer No. 5.”

The maze of trailers brought Taylor to a realization that simplybecause the media hype has died down about the Katrina damage onthe Mississippi coast, there remains evidence of it in the everydaylives of citizens. Most of them have adjusted fine and carry onwithout complaint, Taylor said.

“We didn’t talk about when they would be able to rebuild, but Idid talk to some people about the physical layout of the complex,and everyone’s used to it now,” he said.

Taylor said his family had lived on the coast right off thewater several years ago. On a recent family trip they drove bywhere their house had been to find that the debris field hadcompletely passed where they had lived.

“We realized neighborhoods had been destroyed to the point theycouldn’t be rebuilt, but it was quite a realization that even thegovernment complexes were still in temporary quarters,” he said.”It made me realize how devastating that storm was and how muchthose people still deal with it daily.”

The other thing that came to Taylor in the situation was thefortitude of the people on the coast as they dealt with thedifferences in their everyday lives.

“It was adequate for a courtroom, but it was really cramped,” hesaid. “One case wasn’t bad, but it would be difficult to hold courtin that situation day after day.”

The government complex was the largest created with the use ofFEMA trailers, Taylor said. But one way or the other, he said itwas an experience he’ll never forget.

“There was nothing else on that scope, at least in HancockCounty,” he said. “But just being in and seeing that complex mademe realize that things are not nearly back to normal downthere.”