Bush to Revisit Gulf Coast City Hit by Katrina

President Bush on Thursday will visit the Mississippi town of Waveland, one of many Gulf Coast towns devastated by Hurricane Katrina last year. Waveland residents Pat Murphy and Richard Grayson talk about what they've been through since the hurricane, and what they hope for from the president's second visit to their crippled town.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

In Waveland, Mississippi, there are mixed reactions to the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, and we're going to hear from two residents of that town. First, Pat Murphy. He's a window salesman and moonlighting musician who rode out the storm at home.

Mr. PAT MURPHY (Waveland, Mississippi, Resident): We were here in my house during the storm: my wife, myself, my daughter, who's 21, and my wife's parents, who are 79 and 82. We had all, except for my daughter, lived through Hurricane Camille. We didn't have water where I live in Hurricane Camille and we were--we'd be fine. And that attitude got a lot of people killed in this storm.

We had nine feet of water in the house. And we went upstairs into the second floor into this room where I'm at now and did a whole lot of praying. You know, you'd be thinking to yourself that, `Well, it's got to stop. It's got to stop. It's absurd. It can't possibly get any higher.' And then you'd think, `Well, why, you know? Who says it can't get any higher? It's already absurd that it's this high already.'

We still got a mortgage on the house and now we're going to have to borrow money to fix the house. Of course, Katrina aid, relief aid thing, if that comes through, will be a big help. But, you know, I'm--I'll believe that when I see the money in my hand.

You know, I was happy to see that the president came to south Mississippi, keeps the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the news. And everybody down here is very afraid of being forgotten. I don't have--really have any interest in going down there and seeing him waving flags and all that.

Mr. RICHARD GRAYSON (Waveland, Mississippi, Resident): My name is Richard Grayson. Everyone I know has supported the president, thinks he's done a real good job. Some neighbors and I hope to go down to be there when he arrives.

I've been here for over 35 years. Found the house shortly after I graduated from Tulane, and I just didn't feel that I could find a better place to live. We've gone away in time. Let me put it that way. But like most people, we dottled along. And so we left, slept here and there, on floors and screen porches. I was very anxious to get back. I had to get back.

And as far as my reaction, like everybody else, total disbelief that anything could be so devastating. Your own personal grief and shock was lessened, I think, because it took everything and everybody's home. There's furniture hanging in the limbs. There's clothing. It looks like a scene from a horror movie. And if you saw it at night with the moon shining on all of these white shrouds hanging--but a lot of the street lighting has come back. The roadways have been cleared. Equipment's working constantly. I don't want to bash the president or the governor or anybody else at a very critical time. I think we better just shut up and do something.

BRAND: That was Richard Grayson. He and Pat Murphy are residents of Waveland, Mississippi.

NPR's DAY TO DAY continues. I'm Madeleine Brand.

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