A week after New Orleans' levees broke, unleashing devastation on the city, the full scope of Hurricane Katrina's damage has yet to be realized. With the major levee break repaired and the Army Corps of Engineers now pumping water out of the beleaguered city, anxious friends and relatives of those still missing brace for what will be found when the flood waters are gone. For most, the future is uncertain: They have lost their homes, their businesses, and, in the worst circumstances, loved ones.
What toll the storm took on booksellers and the book industry as a whole in the region is slowly unfolding. One thing is clear: Those affected need help and the book industry is responding.
This BTW special report provides information about ABA member booksellers and others in the book industry that was received as of Tuesday, September 6:
- Main Street Books in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Jerry and Diane Shepherd are fine and e-mailed the Southeast Booksellers Association on Sunday, September 4, to report: "Main Street Books ... is okay. We lost one air conditioning unit when a wall collapsed on top of it and the store sign was damaged. Otherwise the store is okay, but it will be a while before we can re-open." The Shepherd's home suffered damage to its roof.
- Pass Christian Books in Pass Christian, Mississippi. Scott Naugle contacted ABA last week to say he is fine, though his bookstore was destroyed in the hurricane.
- Black Classics Books & Gifts in Mobile, Alabama. Adline C. Clarke e-mailed ABA on Saturday, September 3, to report that "electricity was restored at Black Classics ... today. Carpet's damp near our two doors, but otherwise we're only suffering from lack of business...." She added, "We are counting our many blessings."
- Just Books in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Contacted on Tuesday, September 6: Torrie Kleban and the bookstore staff are okay, as is the bookstore. The store was closed during Labor Day, but is currently open for business.
- Crossroads Catholic Bookstore in Lafayette, Louisiana. BTW contacted the store via phone on Tuesday, September 6. The staff is safe, and the bookstore is intact and open for business.
- Turning Pages Books & More in Natchez, Mississippi. As reported in BTW last week, Mary Emrick is safe. She e-mailed ABA on September 3 to report: "Natchez is far enough west and inland that we did not receive much damage. However, parts of the city are still without power, and we are having trouble keeping the grocery shelves stocked.... I cannot complain knowing many people have lost their loved ones, homes, and businesses.... I will continue to pray for the friends and citizens who have suffered and are suffering greatly."
- The Philosopher's Stone in Covington, Louisiana. Jon Laiche was contacted by phone on September 6. The store -- which escaped serious damage -- will be open for business on Wednesday, September 7.
- Afro-American Book Stop in New Orleans. As reported in BTW last week, Michele Lewis is safe. On Thursday, she contacted ABA via e-mail and reported that her family was safe in Shreveport, Louisiana. "I have a small home here. Communication is very difficult, but we are okay. I've lost my house, car, and stores, but we have our health."
- Beaucoup Books in New Orleans. As reported in BTW last week, Mary Price Dunbar is safe. On September 3, she e-mailed ABA and reported that she did not yet know whether her store had suffered any damage in the hurricane. "Reports as you know from New Orleans are heartbreaking -- all the more to those of us born and raised and living there. There is a lot of damage in my area, although more from wind than water, since we were on higher ground."
- Vero Beach Book Center in Vero Beach, Florida. On September 3, Tom Leonard e-mailed ABA to note that he and his store were fine, noting that Katrina was "barely" a thunderstorm in his area.
- Forest Sales and Distributing Co. in New Orleans. On Saturday, September 3, Rob Schauffler sent word that he and his wife were in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and reported that they "could not escape [New Orleans] ... until Thursday afternoon at 1:14 p.m." He said his family had plans to stay with family in Boulder, Colorado.
- University Press of Mississippi in Jackson, Mississippi. Steven B. Yates, marketing director for the press, wrote,"[Our] facilities are intact: the power is on here, all employees are safe, but not all are able to come to work. Jackson has been hit hard, but not nearly as hard as our coastline.... The city is suffering extreme petrol shortages, widespread power outages, and damage to homes from fallen timber. And it is struggling to cope with the tremendous needs of a vast influx of refugees from coastal and south central Mississippi communities and from New Orleans. We are especially grieved to hear of the destruction of two Mississippi bookstores -- Pass Christian Books and Bookends in Bay St. Louis. We are very concerned about the welfare of our bookselling comrades in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and in New Orleans. We encourage them to contact us if and when circumstances permit."
For previous BTW reports on ABA member booksellers, click here.
To learn how to contribute to ABA's Booksellers Relief Fund, go to http://www.bookweb.org/hurricane/.