COPY-A Look at the Coast, 3 Years After Katrina - - Jackson, MS

08/29/08 Gulf Coast

COPY-A Look at the Coast, 3 Years After Katrina

By Bert Case

The third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina was observed Friday in Mississippi.  The biggest change since the second anniversary is the reopening of the two bridges. 

The new bridges from Bay St. Louis to Pass Christian, and from Biloxi, to Ocean Springs are now fully open to traffic.  They were rebuilt by the Mississippi Department of Transportation at a cost of more than $506 million.  Both have been nominated for national awards for their design and the way they were built being designed at the same time they were under construction. 

In sharp contrast to the bridges, downtown Waveland's city complex still looks like a military outpost in a third world country.  New houses are being built in Waveland, a city that lost 94 percent of its housing in Katrina, but the new houses are up on stilts to accomodate future hurricanes. 

They are still using temporary sewage facilities, in the form of tanks, above ground in the yards of houses, three years after the storm.  Some people are living in Katrina cottages while their new houses are under construction.  These temporary facilities have been ordered evacuated as Hurricane Gustav approaches.

Probably the second hardest hit city is Pass Christian.  It's mayor,  Chipper McDermott, is upbeat about the future three years later.  He summed it up this way, "We are gonna start a new library, city hall and police station; all that is going to start in the next 45 days.  So that's gonna be a big boom for us down here.  We lost all our municipal buildings, we lost all our churches, we lost all our schools, so we have almost had to come back from almost the bottom of the pit of hell."

There are large stretches of the coast that have not been restored at all, and all you see are slabs where businesses and homes stood before the storm.  This is particularly true in Long Beach. 

As you fly the coast you see a lot of new buildings, but it's mostly condominiums.  There are very few old homes left.  All of the casinos are up and running, now with new laws allowing them to build on land.  The casinos are providing the jobs and money that are helping to rebuild the coast. 

 In short, the coast has come a long way, but it has a long way to go, three years after Katrina.


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