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
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

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles 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.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid