By Jeremy Weir Alderson

Some catastrophes, like 9/11 and the Challenger disaster, happen in public, but others happen out of sight. Such a catastrophe is slowly unfolding in the shadows of rural Mississippi, where thousands of destitute people are on the verge of losing their post-Katrina temporary housing.

A great deal is unknown because politicians and government agencies don't want to talk about it but this is the situation: before Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Waveland, thousands of Mississippians were living in extremely low-cost habitations. Some of these were elderly people, living on Social Security, who had paid off their mortgages; some of these were disabled people whose disability checks just about covered their low rents; and some of these were run-of-the-mill poor people who had been fortunate enough to find low-end affordable housing or who made do with substandard housing.

Unfortunately, Katrina knew no mercy. The paid-for homes of the elderly were washed away, the affordable housing was destroyed and the substandard housing was completely obliterated. The victims were given temporary housing in surviving motel rooms, formaldehyde-filled FEMA trailers or much more substantial MEMA (Mississippi Emergency Management Agency) cottages. Now, however, through some misguided notion of tough love this temporary housing is being withdrawn.