The faces of the Gulf Coast

Pat Jarrett


The full impact of my trip to Mississippi didn’t hit me until I returned to Kent and found myself feeling like something was wrong because houses were intact.

I was one of over 400 students who volunteered to help the Gulf Coast region out of the quagmire of Katrina.

Newspapers and magazines ran photos of the vast destruction that were usually taken by a helicopter. This allows the photographer to see the whole picture, to see the large scale of destruction the storm left in its path.

My photographs are of the people who saw the size of the storm on a smaller individual scale, but these portraits speak volumes about the immensity of the storm.

My focus was on volunteering in the area. I’m not a carpenter. I do not own a tool belt or a set of tree spikes. I don’t know how to use an air compressor to nail shingles to a roof, and plumbing is a mystery to me. I did what I do best – take photos.

I could have photographed the volunteers to show viewers what an amazing job they did. I didn’t.

I took photographs of those who tell the story of the storm in their faces and in their eyes. These are people who stood up to the storm, and who now stand out to volunteers.

-ÿPat Jarrett