Katrina Photo Essays

Photo Essay: Exploring Biloxi, MS, eight years since Katrina Special

Biloxi - The evidence of Hurricane Katrina's destruction is still visible today as scars in the landscape of Biloxi, Mississippi, but Biloxi has moved on. Repaired and rebuilt it awaits you coming to explore its vibrant casinos, nightlife, beaches and wildlife.
Almost to the eighth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina devastating the Mississippi Gulf coast, the rebuilding is still going on in hard-hit areas such as Biloxi, Mississippi. As if Katrina, the August 29 , 2005 hurricane hadn't done enough to impede the tourism that creates jobs and gives the Mississippi seaside city residents a livelihood along with shrimping and fishing, the largest petroleum spill in history, the April 2010 BP Oil Spill, came to further damage the struggling, still rebuilding economy. Maybe now Biloxi can finally move on and finish rebuilding. I love the uncluttered natural state of the Gulf Coast, in particular Biloxi, Mississippi. The restored and new hotels keep you in luxury not always found, the beaches are uncrowded to walk along, the sidewalks and bicycling trails keep it safe to go slow and see the sights, the wildlife teams along the shoreline with flying fish jumping out of the water in the morning while the porpoises and pelicans play in the Biloxi Bay channel following shrimp and fishing boats as they work. The history of the area is displayed on roadside plaques and memorials. The coast is forever changing. I find something new each time I visit. Come for the casinos, the history, the wildlife or nightlife. You won't be disappointed there is lots to explore and experience.
Shrimp boat in Biloxi channel with nets out shrimping while pelicans and sea gulls chase it down the channel.
The large shrimping boats are back in the water hoping for a good season in 2013. The Mississippi Press reports on Gulf Live that opening day had more boats than the past few years with the best catches being made right in the Biloxi channel. You will find charters available to go fishing or take the family on a boat cruise along the coast to see the dolphins. Charters can be found at any of the small marinas dotting Biloxi Beach.
A lot filled with debris in 2006, 8 months after Hurricane Katrina beside the lot now empty but kept in August 2013.
The slow rebuilding of Biloxi evident in my side by side photo showing the still remaining debris on April 2006, eight months after Katrina ravaged Biloxi, to my current June 2013 photo showing a still empty lot. Many of the historic seaside mansions have not been rebuilt. The remaining empty lots are cleaned of debris and kept cut. Biloxi's population has fallen from Mississippi's 3rd largest city when Katrina hit, to be the 5th largest city in Mississippi on the 2010 census according to Wikipedia's Biloxi page.
The newly opened Golden Nugget Casino in Biloxi, MS, as viewed from the Biloxi Bay Bridge, at the property of the previous Isle of Capri casino devastated 8 years earlier when Hurricane Katrina came ashore.
Several of the popular resort casino properties in Biloxi are still renovating, changing ownership and rebuilding after all these years. The Isle of Capri Casino property, heavily damaged after Katrina, has only just reopened this past June 2013 as the Golden Nugget, almost eight years since being devastated by Katrina as reported on gulflive.com in the Mississippi Press. The IP Casino Resort and Spa, formerly the Imperial Palace, though heavily damaged, managed to be the first casino to reopen as noted by ABC news. In December 2005 the IP Hotel and Casino reopened its doors to gaming and employees with great fanfare as a sign things were beginning to get back to normal. IP Casino Resort and Spa continued to add improvements under new ownership bringing it to the luxury resort and spa it is today.
The old Biloxi Bay Bridge as it sat in April 2006 8 months after Katrina went through and in August 2013 repaired and used as a fishing pier. A piece of the Imperial Palace garage and the casino destruction also shown in the 2006 photo.
My photo of the old Biloxi Bridge on Highway 90 shows the corner of the IP Casino Resort and Spa's parking garage in April 2006, and now, summer 2013 side by side. The old bridge you can see heavily damaged and torn up by Katrina has been rebuilt to half way across the bay and is used today as a fishing pier. Casino gaming floors prior to Katrina had to be built on barges on the water, not on land, explaining the debris pile in the water above. After Katrina the codes were amended to allow the gaming floors on the land within 800 feet of the shore as reported on PBS news hour. A plus to coming to play and visit now is the luxurious accommodations at the newly built and renovated casino hotels.
The new Biloxi Bay Bridge, built after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the old one on Hwy 90, this one now finished runs 1.7 miles from Ocean Springs, Mississippi to Biloxi, Mississippi.
The new Biloxi Bay Bridge between Biloxi and Ocean Springs, Mississippi on Highway 90 has been completed. The new Biloxi Bay bridge span starts at the same position on the Ocean Springs side of Biloxi Bay but now empties a half block south of its previous location in Biloxi. The bridge includes a pedestrian and bicycling trail allowing a safe crossing to the Ocean Springs beach cycling and hiking trail. The bridge is a very popular crossing for exercise. At 1.7 miles long it is a 3.4 mile hike or jog to make the return trip.
Hurricane Camille memorial side by side of April 2006 showing the devastation and debris left by Hurricane Katrina in Aug. 2005 and the June 2013 view of it repaired and restored.
Many historic sites and buildings are being repaired and refaced. This side by side photo shows the damage visible in April 2006, eight months after Hurricane Katrina splattered the Hurricane Camille memorial beside a newly repaired and rebuilt memorial as viewed in June 2013. The memorial to the victims of Hurricane Camille in 1969 has been refurbished but the church behind and tower that stood to the right have not been rebuilt. The metal frame of the church remains.
Condos in Biloxi, MS shown after Hurricane Katrina heavily damaged the bottom floors beside the same condos in June 2013, repaired and restored.
Heavy damage suffered to the bottom floors of this condo building from Hurricane Katrina's storm surge in 2005 are now freshly landscaped, refaced and repaired to their former glory. The 2006 photo can be viewed here in higher resolution and the now repaired condos as they stand in June 2013. The rebuilding is on going in the busy city. I have many more examples of what was and what is now, but what really matters is the adventure and intrigue waiting to be experienced along the beaches and shores of the newly revived gulf coast. When planning your next vacation think about Biloxi, Mississippi, an adventure awaits on the shores of Biloxi Beach and in the luxury casino hotels that line them.

In 1880, the inveterate traveller and journalist Lafcadio Hearn was living in New Orleans and writing for a couple of local papers, the Daily City Item and the Times-Democrat. Hearn sensed what so many before and after him have, that New Orleans exists in a state of insidious disintegration—“crumbling into ashes”—thanks to its perilous geography and its “frauds and maladministrations.” And yet, Hearn wrote to a friend, “it is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes than to own the whole state of Ohio.” New Orleanians have always resembled New Yorkers; they tend to share the sense that to live anywhere else would lead inevitably to a stultifying and pitiable existence beyond the bounds of understanding.

In part, the spirit of New Orleans is rooted in the city’s below-sea-level precariousness, the condition of looking out—and even up—at the water all around you, the knowledge that water saturates the ground you stand on. Katrina, the ferocious hurricane that devastated the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, tested the self-possession of every citizen who survived it. More than eighteen hundred people did not survive it, and hundreds of thousands lost their homes. The storm, and the terrible flooding that followed—a natural disaster exacerbated by a range of man-made disasters—revealed much that had been fragile, or rotten, in Hearn’s time and grew worse with every decade: shoddy civil engineering; corrupt and feckless government institutions; and, it turned out, an Administration in Washington that for days witnessed a city drowning—a largely black city drowning—and reacted with galling indifference. And yet, in the face of abandonment—in hospitals, on rooftops, on highway overpasses—the residents of New Orleans behaved with resilience. Rebecca Solnit, an acute observer of Katrina and its aftermath, has written, “The belief that a Hobbesian war of all-against-all had broken loose justified treating the place as a crime zone or even a hostile country rather than a place in which grandmothers and toddlers were stranded in hideous conditions, desperately in need of food, water, shelter and medical attention.”

Alec Soth, a photographer who lives in Minneapolis and travels the Midwest and the South with the energy of a latter-day Walker Evans, did not join the artists who came to New Orleans a decade ago to capture what he calls the “eye candy of decay and ruin.” Instead, he waited, preferring to capture the city of water ten years later, a city in a state of both persistent suffering and persistent renewal. Soth shows us the unnerving image of a freestanding column—all that is left of a house in the hard-hit Lower Ninth Ward—but he moves toward a vision of promise, a lonely figure at his leisure, staring into the waters of today’s New Orleans. ♦

0 Replies to “Katrina Photo Essays”

Lascia un Commento

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *