News / USA

Mississippi Coast Still Rebuilding 6 Years After Katrina

Slow, expensive process for area built on tourism and seafood industry

The newly built Biloxi Visitors Center overlooks the Gulf of Mexico.
The newly built Biloxi Visitors Center overlooks the Gulf of Mexico.

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Rhonda Miller

When Hurricane Katrina raged across the Gulf of Mexico six years ago, it devastated the100 kilometers of the Mississippi coast. Houses, schools, libraries and hotels became piles of broken wood and windows.

Cars, trucks and boats were battered and tossed about. Entire neighborhoods disappeared. Thousands of residents and businesses left the state, but those who stayed are finally seeing a new landscape take shape.

A newly-built Southern mansion with tall white columns and a big porch overlooking the Gulf of Mexico is one sign Biloxi is rebuilding. It's the city’s new Visitors Center, which attracts local residents as well as tourists. Inside, a video tells of the hurricane that changed everything.

This slab foundation, remaining from a house destroyed by Katrina, is one of many still found along the coast.
This slab foundation, remaining from a house destroyed by Katrina, is one of many still found along the coast.

Slow comeback

Rebuilding is a slow and expensive process for a city built on tourism and the seafood industry.

Mississippi’s other coastal cities faced the same challenge. The federal government provided $25 billion for the massive effort.

Gov. Haley Barbour said the initial focus was getting coastal residents back into their homes. “About $4 billion has been dedicated to housing. We will, when we’re through, have either rebuilt or built or repaired more than 50,000 units of housing on the coast.”

Reviving the waterfront

Another major project, using federal money, is the $570 million renovation of the state port facility in Gulfport. Barbour said elevating the port and its container terminals to seven and a half meters, or 25-feet above sea level will protect not just the shippers, but the community.

“Twenty-five feet almost assures there’ll never be another storm surge that comes through here and sweeps all these containers that go into North Gulfport, West Gulfport and even into Long Beach and run over churches and houses and cars and land as far as eight miles away.”

Just east of that construction, the city of Gulfport is rebuilding its harbor for recreational boats. Mayor George Schloegel promises the revived waterfront will be even better than before Katrina.

“The recovery process has been very difficult. We stripped the entire harbor, went back to basics, every single piling was pulled out. We went to the basic structure and have built again, right from the ground," Schloegel says. "And we think we have built something that will be resistant to future storms. Not going to say storm-proof, but resistant.”

While cities can’t just move out of harm’s way, people can and many did relocate. Barb Corry moved to Biloxi a few months before Katrina struck to be near her son, who’s in the Air Force. Even though her house withstood the storm, Corry moved 160 kilometers north, saying she couldn’t face living through another hurricane.

“It was just disaster, trees all over. It was just like a bomb had went off. Most of the homes in our area, were just nothing left, just slabs, all the whole area was nothing but slabs, it was just sad.”

Cheryl Kring's rebuilt home in Waveland, Mississippi is one block from the beach. The elevated house is typical of the new landscape along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Cheryl Kring's rebuilt home in Waveland, Mississippi is one block from the beach. The elevated house is typical of the new landscape along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Staying on

But many on the Mississippi Gulf Coast won’t consider moving.

Cheryl Kring has lived most of her life one block from the beach in Waveland, about an hour east of New Orleans. She was a child in 1969 when her family home was destroyed by Hurricane Camille.

Then she and her husband lost their home to Hurricane Katrina. Now Kring is back on the same property, in a picture-perfect cottage.

“When it comes again - it’s gonna come again - and I’m gonna grab what I can grab and get out of here," says Kring. "And I will rebuild right back here again.”

Hurricane Katrina wiped out nearly all of Waveland. Half of the 8,000 residents left and never came back. But even two Category 5 hurricanes cannot destroy the connection Kring has to her piece of land.

“No matter what, I’m still coming back. No matter what, I will be on this corner. So it doesn’t matter. I love Waveland. I love the area that we’re in. It’s home. You can’t leave home.”


You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid