Hurricane Katrina came calling late in August 2005. It began in the Bahamas, made its way across Florida into the Gulf of Mexico and then hurled itself at the US Gulf Coast to create the most costly disaster in the history of the United States. The greatest loss of life occurred in New Orleans, but the greatest property damage occurred in the Mississippi beachfront cities.
|Bourbon Street New Orleans, LA
We began 2011 with a visit to the area and found that Katrina had left no scars on the most famous neighborhood in New Orleans, the French Quarter. As we passed along Bourbon Street, we saw no evidence of the deadly hurricane.
|Destroyed dock in foreground and lighthouse in background on the right - Biloxi at sunset
Yet we found the reverse to be true when we arrived in Biloxi on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Katrina destroyed about 90 per cent of Biloxi. It hit Biloxi with a storm surge 27 feet high. The mayor of Biloxi described it as a tsunami. The governor of the state of Mississippi likened Biloxi, in the aftermath of Katrina, to Hiroshima.
|Destruction along Beach Blvd after Katrina
Biloxi’s main street is Beach Boulevard (US 90) and it runs alongside the waterfront from one end of the city to the other. Prior to the arrival of Katrina, both sides of Beach Boulevard were fully developed. On the beachfront side, casinos and restaurants were very much in evidence. On the opposite side, there were many antebellum mansions.
|Belvoir after Katrina
The room used by Jefferson Davis as his bedroom has spectacular sea views. The sunsets are unforgettable as is shown by the one captured by Pat in the attached photograph. It is ironic to think of the defeated Davis spending his old age enjoying such beauty, when the victor of the US Civil War (Abraham Lincoln) had been murdered a quarter of a century earlier.
|Winnie Davis bedroom
However, all of this history was of no consequence early on the morning of August 29, 2005, when Katrina came calling. The giant sea surge destroyed nearly all of the buildings on both sides on Beach Boulevard, and the Jefferson Davis house and its contents were severely damaged. The status of the house in American history has meant that much restoration work has taken place over the past five years, but few of its neighboring antebellum mansions have been so fortunate. Many such mansions have been demolished and the wreckage removed, leaving empty lots.
As one drives down Beach Boulevard, one sees on the northern side the occasional newly built mansion but mostly one sees empty lots for sale. On the opposite side of the boulevard, the beachfront side, one sees acres and acres of empty land containing mere traces of the foundations of the buildings that once stood there.
|Beau Rivage Casino
|Sculpted dead trees
|Bob at the Biloxi Lighthouse
Click below to see Pat's video of what we saw in Biloxi.
This piece, written by Bob, was originally posted on our website on March 17, 2011.