Focused on Mississippi: 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Focused on Mississippi

BILOXI, Miss. (WJTV) – Saturday marks the 15th anniversary of the most devastating hurricane to hit the Mississippi coast. Hurricane Katrina left significant damage from New Orleans to Mobile Bay.

It was only after it arrived that people began to comprehend the magnitude of Katrina. 

Russel Barrett grabbed his home camera and started shooting when the water started rising in his Biloxi neighborhood. And after a while, it seemed it would never stop. But even with the flooding, he was one of the lucky ones. He still had a home to repair. Not everyone was so fortunate. And not everyone got out, even though the warnings said there was another Camille-like storm on the way.

Linda Aiavolasiti, director of the Ground Zero Katrina Museum, stated, “Unfortunately, that was the cause of several deaths because people say, ‘I made it through Camille. I’m not leaving.'”

The pulverizing storm surge demolished houses more than 70 miles to the east at Pascagoula, and there were varying degrees of damage and flooding all the way in between.

And it’s not like there was an easy way to get from place to place, either. Highway 90, in many areas, you just had to pick the best lane to drive in, and the bridges were gone.

But like a kicked fire ant mound, the Mississippi coast started rebounding almost immediately. 

“And we had thousands of volunteers from all over the United States to come help us rebuild. And if it wasn’t for them, I don’t know where we’d be today,” said Aiavolasiti.

They said at the time, it would be ten years before the coast would start to resemble itself again. Well, here we are at 15 year, and it more than resembles itself. The coast is reinventing itself. There’s new construction still going on. Sadly, there are still empty lots between the new buildings. 

The scars from the storm heal over time, but people remember the kindness of strangers. And that’s an indelible mark left by Katrina that hopefully will stay with the people of Mississippi forever.

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