Mississippi Gulf Coast

In 1998 we worked Hurricane Georges in the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, primarily Biloxi and Gulfport. Then in 2005-08 we worked Hurricane Katrina, albeit from a desk in Schaumburg, IL. Although New Orleans was devastated by Katrina and received the bulk of the news, the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast was decimated as well, far worse than Georges. Because we are so familiar with this area, we decided to fly to New Orleans in January, 2009, to check on the progress.

We rented a car and drove the Gulf Highway (Hwy. 90) in Mississippi. It was quite depressing to see the slow recovery. Many buildings are abandoned and there are now bare foundations where beautiful anti-bellum homes once stood. Residents tell us the cost of insurance now has skyrocketed to the point where many can’t afford to rebuild or even stay in the area.

Former site of Grand Casino

The Grand Casino in Biloxi, one of about 14 pre-Katrina casinos along the Gulf Highway ended up across Hwy. 90. Harrah’s had planned to build a new Margaritaville Casino on this site, but the because of the economy slowdown, plans are now on hold. The Isle of Capri Casino ended up in the middle of Hwy. 90. And the Hard Rock Casino, which was under construction and about to open when Katrina hit, was totally destroyed. For a great satellite view of these casinos before and after Katrina, see http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/biloxi-katrina-imagery-casinos.htm. Once known as Las Vegas of the south, the area now lists 11 casinos along the Gulf Coast.

Many areas of New Orleans still show the effects of Katrina, but the French Quarters, which is on higher ground than much of New Orleans, didn’t suffer as much damage. We did stop at Café Du Monde and enjoyed our favorite  beignets.

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