There’s so much to be thankful for, says Kathleen Koch

Mondays after a great holiday weekend are always a little tough, but here’s something inspiring to brighten your day: a CNN blog post from our own Kathleen Koch, author of Rising from Katrina: How My Mississippi Hometown Lost It All and Found What Mattered. She recently visited the Mississippi Gulf Coast and is sharing how its people are healing and moving forward.

They don’t complain. Few here do. They are too busy putting the Mississippi Gulf Coast back together after it was eviscerated in 2005 by sustained 125 mph winds, hop-scotching tornadoes, and a thirty-plus-foot storm surge.

Home sales were up last month and prices were steady. Unemployment was slightly higher, but still lower than the national average. Only 93 FEMA trailers remain on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The casinos and many hotels, restaurants and other businesses have re-opened.

In my hometown, Bay St. Louis, there is a new fire station. Elementary school children are out of trailers and attending class in a brick-and-mortar building for the first time in five years. The flattened Little Theatre has relocated to one of the few historic buildings left standing after the storm.

…[Biloxi’s Bethel Free Health Clinic] has tallied over 29,000 visits since it opened its doors. It might seem a challenge to keep operating in a recovering disaster zone in the poorest state in the nation. But Mississippi leads the country in per capita philanthropy. And for that, just as for the crowds that pack the facility every day, [Bethel director Judy] Jones is grateful. “Oh, absolutely. We are staying afloat,” she said, beaming. “We may not have done a lot, but we’re still open. And that’s just great.”

There might still be a long road ahead, but there’s plenty to be grateful for. Read more at CNN’s Belief Blog.

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