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Hurricane Katrina Preparations, Path and Photographs


Day time NOAA satellite photo of Hurricane Katrina


     Unless otherwise noted all photographs depicting Hurricane Katrina damage were taken by the Dogwood Ceramic Supply webmaster on various dates during December 2005 after initial Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts were completed and the most heavily damaged areas were opened for public access.  All Katrina photographs, except those specifically noted, are the legal property of Dogwood Ceramic Supply and may not be used without prior written permission of Dogwood Ceramic Supply.



     On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the nearby parts of Southeastern Louisiana and Southwestern Alabama with a tremendous storm surge that leveled towns, causing a massive amount of property damage and killing an estimated 238 Mississippi residents. The storm surge, which would measure 27.8' above sea level at the deepest point in Pass Christian Mississippi, would ultimately cause the failure of the levies surrounding New Orleans hours after the storm had passed.  The levy failure in New Orleans caused even a larger loss of life and property damage that what Katrina caused directly.


    Just like Hurricane Camille which struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969, everybody hopes there will never be another hurricane as bad as Hurricane Katrina.


    While we remember the past through pictures and memorials, we must also move forward.



Hurricane Katrina Preparations


    August 25, 2005 started as a normal workday for Dogwood Ceramic Supply.  Sure there was a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico and the potential for rapid growth to a major hurricane seemed better with each update, but the National Hurricane Center was predicting landfall somewhere near Appalachia Florida... hundreds of miles away from Gulfport Mississippi.  Hurricane updates during the day had some increases in the strength of the storm and each update to the forecast path was just a slight shifted to the west.


    Then the 4PM CST National Hurricane Center forecast was released. The NHC (National Hurricane Center) shifted the forecast track of Hurricane Katrina 170 miles to the west from the previous update and predicted a Category 4 Hurricane at landfall along the Alabama/Mississippi border.  Big Storm.  Monster BIG shift in the forecast track.


    This was the locked and loaded forecast.  Landfall was predicted within 72 hours and the NHC was feeling highly confident of the general forecast path and potential intensity.  There was no doubt, Hurricane Katrina was taking aim on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  The only real question remaining for the Mississippi Gulf Coast would be "which side" of the eye would strike the Mississippi Coast... not that position of the eye would matter much because Hurricane Katrina was destined to become a physically wide and intense storm:


satellite photograph of Hurricane Katrina on August 28, 2005

 Day time NOAA satellite photo of Hurricane Katrina on August 28, 2005 while Hurricane Katrina was rated as a Category 5 Hurricane.



    Up to that 4 PM, Friday August 25, 2005 Hurricane Katrina forecast track by the NHC, the storm could have entirely missed the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  We might not have even gotten a drop of rain out of the storm if everything had worked out properly.  Now, with landfall projected in less than 72 hours, we must hurriedly complete our hurricane preparations.


photograph of Hurricane Katrina Preparations


    Sunday, August 28th, 2005... the day before Hurricane Katrina... was an absolutely gorgeous day with a bright blue sky and a few puffy clouds scattered about.  Nothing foretelling the day that would follow.


    The Dogwood Ceramic Supply Showroom and Warehouse was prepared for Hurricane Katrina.  The two rollup doors in the warehouse were barricaded with 12,000 lbs of pottery clay per door.  The windows and doors to the Dogwood showroom were secured with reinforced plywood window covers and there was even 6.000 lbs of clay stacked behind the showroom front doors just incase something bad would happen.


    Ultimately, there would be no damage to our property.


    Not quite totally true. We did loose our Blue Roadside Sign.



Yes, we got lucky



    Not everybody else will be able to say the same.




Hurricane Katrina Strikes Mississippi


    Hurricane Katrina would become a record breaking Category 5 Storm in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, would weaken slightly as the big Hurricanes are quite prone to do and make initial landfall in Southern Plaquemines Parish on the western side of the Mississippi River as a Category 4 Hurricane.  Hurricane Katrina would continue on a slightly North-northeastern path, cross the Mississippi River, travel across St. Bernard Parish, briefly re-enter the Gulf of Mexico over Lake Borgne and then make the final landfall near the Louisiana/Mississippi border as a strong Category 3 Hurricane with a storm surge consistent of a physically large and intense Category 5 storm striking a shallow water coast line.  The National Hurricane Center would miss their 72 hour predicted landfall point by about 75 miles and basically nail the strength projections.  Pretty decent forecasting.


Hurricane Katrina path


    The NOAA map above shows the path of the eye (center) of Hurricane Katrina as the storm makes landfall in the Northern Gulf of Mexico between Slidell Louisiana and Waveland / Bay St. Louis Mississippi.  The Northeast quadrant of the storm is considered to be the worse part of the as the storm's winds are pushing water ahead of the storm.  Compounding the normal Northeast quadrant issues was the geography of South Louisiana and Mississippi that creates a funnel to trap water into the narrow area and the fact that Katrina was physically quite large with Hurricane force winds far past Alabama's Mobile Bay which forced even more water into the land mass funnel.



FEMA flood zones during Hurricane Katrina


    FEMA storm surge data map showing 24.8 to 33.4 ft storm surge above mean high tide created by Hurricane Katrina in Eastern Hancock County and Western Harrison County Mississippi.



FEMA Damage Assessment of the Central Mississippi Gulf Coast


    FEMA Damage Assessment of the Central Mississippi Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. Red areas on the map equal Catastrophic damage levels.  In Pass Christian Mississippi, catastrophic would mean 95% of the homes and businesses in the city would be destroyed or deemed uninhabitable.



South Mississippi major road and geopolitical map


    The Geopolitical map of Harrison County Mississippi is shown above. Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties are the only 3 counties in Mississippi that are located on the Mississippi Sound. The Mississippi Sound is separated from the Gulf of Mexico by a string of barrier islands. Portions of several of the Barrier Islands can be seen on the map above. St. Louis Bay is the dividing point between Hancock County and Harrison County. The division between Harrison County and Jackson County is visible on the right hand side of the map.



Hurricane Katrina Aftermath


   Photographs of Hurricane Katrina damage along the Mississippi Gulf Coast are divided into 6 sections:

 

1)    Dogwood Ceramic Supply and the Orange Grove Area... we got lucky

 

2)    Gulfport, beachfront homes, areas South of the CSX railroad plus downtown and port areas.

 

3)    Long Beach, beachfront homes and areas South of the CSX railroad.

 

4)    Pass Christian... Ground Zero for Katrina.  Beachfront homes along Scenic Drive.

 

5)    St. Martin Community, inland community adjoining the Biloxi Back Bay.

 

6)    Biloxi.  Beachfront homes, Edgewater Mall, Casinos and historical landmarks.


    With the exception of the St. Martin Community, all of the Hurricane Katrina photographs are from cities and towns located in Harrison County Mississippi.  The St. Martin Community is in the western part of Jackson County, adjoining Harrison County near the City of d'Iberville.


    Unless otherwise noted, all photographs depicting Hurricane Katrina damage were taken by the Dogwood Ceramic Supply webmaster on various dates during late December 2005... approximately 4 months after Hurricane Katrina struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  The delay in taking the photographs was to allow recovery and initial salvage efforts of private property to be completed and to allow emergency repairs to the major roadways. 


    All thumbnail photographs are linked to larger photographs which open in a new browser window. 




Photographs of Dogwood Ceramics & the Orange Grove Area

 following Hurricane Katrina:



Our preparations had been successful:


Hurricane Katrina photograph of damage to Dogwood's sign


The only damage to our showroom was the loss of the big blue lighted roadside sign.



    The photograph below is of the original (old) location of Dogwood Ceramic Supply, just a bit over 1/4 mile away (to the west) from The Showroom.  The flat roof was removed from nearly the entire building and a portion of one of the exterior walls was destroyed.  Fortunately Dogwood Ceramic Supply had moved away back in 2001 (4 years before Hurricane Katrina) and our showroom was not affected by the storm.


photograph of roof damage after Hurricane Katrina


The old Dogwood Ceramic Supply Showroom location, September 2005.



The old showroom coming down, May 2006.


The old showroom coming down, May 2006.


roof damage to Gulfport's Bible Baptist Church after Hurricane Katrina


   Gulfport's Bible Baptist Church, also on Dedeaux Road, just over 1/2 mile (to the east) from The Showroom had significant damage caused by winds during Hurricane Katrina.  The photograph of Bible Baptist Church was taken after the church members had a chance to clean up the debris around the church. The front doorway, portion of the church's sidewalls and a good portion of the roof structure is caved in and/or missing.


    Because Orange Grove area of Gulfport is well inland and has few areas that are low lying, the vast majority of the damage in the area caused by Hurricane Katrina was wind related.  A good portion of that wind damage, such as the Bible Baptist Church shown above, appeared to be tornadic in origin.


Pretty obvious that Dogwood Ceramic Supply got lucky.



Much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast did not fare as well





Photographs of Gulfport Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina


    Gulfport, the second largest City in Mississippi by population, is the largest City in square mileage of any of the cities in Harrison County. 


    Principal economic activity is the Port of Gulfport, more properly known as Mississippi Port Authority at Gulfport.  The Port of Gulfport is a break-bulk and container seaport specializing in lumber and frozen chickens as exports and green fruit as imports.  The Port of Gulfport is rated the 2nd largest green fruit importer in the United States in volume (primarily bananas) and 3rd busiest US container port on the Gulf of Mexico.


    Additional major industries include ship building (commercial, military and private) and the 4 US Navy Mobile Construction Battalions assigned to the Gulfport Naval Construction Center.


     Katrina's Storm Surge was 24.5 ft above mean sea level plus wave action on top of the surge height in the City of Gulfport.  Katrina's secondary surge (water pushed up the Back Bay of Biloxi and in turn up the local rivers and streams) caused significant damage to low lying residential and commercial areas of Gulfport well inland from the beach.  The Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, about 4 miles from the beach front, would have significant surge over the north end of the main runway caused by water pushed up Back Bay of Biloxi and in turn the nearby drainage stream.  



Cowan-Lorraine Rd after Hurricane Katrina


    The view UP (north view) Gulfport's Cowan-Lorraine Road from US Hwy 90, the beach front road along much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The CSX Railroad track crossing gate shown in the far background, about 1/3 mile from US Hwy 90.  Much of the Katrina storm surge was halted by the CSX railroad running East-West through South Mississippi.  The Gulfport Fire Station 7 temporary trailer is visible the background just right of center near the slight rise in the road.  Dogwood Ceramic Supply is located on Dedeaux Rd.  Dedeaux intersects with Lorraine Road about 5 miles north of this beach front view.




photograph of Gulfport Fire Station 7 after Hurricane Katrina


    Gulfport Fire Station 7.  Located on Cowan-Lorraine Road at the rise in the road elevation. The junk pile with wheels in the middle foreground is what is believed to be the remains of the historical Gulfport fire engine, circa late 1920's.  Gulfport FD stored the vehicle at Station 7.  When the water started to rise, Station 7 left with their fire trucks, but was unable to get the historic fire truck out of the station in time.


damaged First Baptist Church of Gulfport after Hurricane Katrina


    First Baptist Church of Gulfport, Downtown Gulfport.  Photograph taken from near Marine Life located near the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor.  Federal Courthouse in right background.  Foreground is the remains of Jones Park.  The First Baptist Church of Gulfport was used as the background for many broadcasts by Elizabeth Vargas of ABC Nightly News immediately following Hurricane Katrina.


    Update January 2007: First Baptist Church of Gulfport relocated to Hwy 605 about 1 mile north of I-10. Hwy 605 is the new name for Cowen-Lorraine extension that runs from I-10 Northward to Hwy 67.  The First Presbyterian Church of Gulfport also relocated to Hwy 605, about 1/2 mile North of the location of the First Baptist Church of Gulfport.



photograph of destroyed Gulfport Marine Life after Hurricane Katrina


     The remains of Marine Life.  Marine Life was a fixture at the Port of Gulfport since the 60's.  With the approach of Katrina, the smaller marine mammals at Marine Life were relocated to safer locations.  The seals were seen swimming in the pool at the Best Western Hotel on Hwy 49, 5 miles north of the beach, during a pre-Katrina CNN broadcast.   The Bottlenose Dolphins could not be easily moved and were subsequently displaced by Katrina and became the subject of many news stories following Katrina.


   Katrina Update: The dolphins, many of whom were born and raised at Marine Life, were kept together as a sort of pod and ultimately relocated to Atlantis in the Bahamas.  News reports in the Summer of 2007 stated that each of the female dolphins from Marine Life pod had become pregnant.




Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Home photograph after Hurricane Katrina



    Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Home, two blocks from the beach, near Downtown Gulfport.



photograph of Gulfport Beaches after Hurricane Katrina 


    The beach looks pretty good from the cleanup efforts.  Looking eastward from Jones Park and the Port of Gulfport.  Low tide shows what still remains in the water as of December 2005.  Update: USCG funded massive debris cleaning efforts along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Those cleaning efforts were completed in 2006.




photograph of Gulfport boardwalk damage caused by Hurricane Katrina


    Close up of the beach in Gulfport following Hurricane Katrina.  Remains of the boardwalk in the foreground.  Trees and whatever else might be in the water in the background.




photograph of Hurricane Katrina damage to the Gulfport VA hospital


    Gulfport VA Hospital.  This entire area used to be covered with Live Oaks and dozens of historical buildings. The property was donated to the Federal Government for use during WWI.  Since the 1920's the property was used as Veteran's Hospital.  The VA Hospital weathered Category 5 Hurricane Camille in 1969 with minimal damage. Katrina's storm surge was a lot more powerful than Camille's surge and winds.  After Hurricane Katrina the VA is abandoning the hospital and donating the land back to the City of Gulfport.  No update on the long term plans for the property by the City of Gulfport.



Fema Trailer on Gulfport Beach due to Hurricane Katrina


Dish TV and all the comforts of home at a beachfront FEMA Trailer in Gulfport


Update: Lee and ChiChi have moved into their newly built home on the same site as their old home.



Hurricane Katrina damaged many apartments in gulfport ms


Dolan Ave apartments, 4 blocks North from US Hwy 90. Across from the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center. 



Lynn Meadows discovery Center damaged by Hurricane Katrina


   Lynn Meadows Discovery Center.  Undated photograph courtesy of the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center.  One must wonder where the boat was previously docked since LMDC is 4 city blocks from US Hwy 49.



photograph of Hurricane Katrina damaged William Carey College/University


    Fairchild Hall, the main administration building of William Carey College (University), was constructed in the 1920's by the Gulf Coast Military Academy.  The upper level GCMA closed in the early 1950's and the property was acquired by the US Military for use by Keesler AFB to conduct technical and Officer Training.  Ultimately the Air Force transferred the property to the Navy, and the bulk of the property was used to construct the Navy (later Armed Forces) Retirement Home.  The residual portion of the GCMA property would continue as a lower level military academy until the mid 70's, at which time the school was closed and the property, including Fairchild Hall overlooking US Hwy 90 was sold to William Carey College.


   The Sarah Gillespie Library, located on the 2nd floor of Fairchild Hall, showcased the art work of William Carey College (University).  The WCC photograph of Katrina damage courtesy of Jeff Schmuki, Asst. Professor of Art, William Carey College.


   Additional note:  Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel chose the Armed Forces Retirement Home (a few hundred yards immediately to the west of Fairchild Hall) as his broadcast location during Hurricane Katrina as he (and others) believed the buildings to be well above the projected flood stage.  The Armed Forces Retirement Home, Fairchild Hall and the rest of the WCC campus was flooded and destroyed by Katrina's surge.


    Update: William Carey College (now known as William Carey University) has built a new campus about 8 miles north of Dogwood Ceramic Supply (or 12-13 miles north of the beach) near the intersection of MS Hwy 605 and Hwy 67.  The old WCC campus is for sale.  The Armed Forces Retirement Home has rebuilt on the Gulfport beachfront on the same site as the old home.  Most importantly the service and support operations of each unit has been elevated above the first floor.



photograph of Gulfport's Hancock Bank damaged by Hurricane Katrina



   Teagarden Road area of Gulfport.  Two blocks north of US Hwy 90.  The bank vault and parts of the drive through canopy of Hancock Bank still remain after Katrina visited the neighborhood.




ss Hurricane Camille survived Hurricane Katrina storm surge and winds


   The SS Hurricane Camille. In 1969 Hurricane Camille deposited this ocean going tug boat on the north side of US Hwy 90.  The tug boat was converted into a tourist attraction and had an souvenir stand attached.  HAD.  The SS Hurricane Camille weathered Hurricane Katrina fairly well, though the ship is showing signs of rust due to exposure to salt water.



   Update: SS Hurricane Camille was demolished by order of the City of Gulfport, May 2008.



Waffle House will rebuild after Hurricane Katrina destroyed their buildings


Enough said !


    Update: Waffle House has rebuilt all of the Waffle House Restaurants along the Mississippi Gulf Coast that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina.  Because Waffle House is a private corporation that self finances and self insures their structures, Waffle House has been able to avoid the typical insurance BS that prevents many businesses from finding financing for their rebuilding projects.





Photographs of Long Beach Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina



    Essentially a bedroom community, Long Beach is located immediately to the west of Gulfport and just that much closer to the eye of Hurricane Katrina as the storm came ashore in Mississippi.  An estimated 90% of the homes and businesses south of the CSX railroad tracks in Long Beach were destroyed or severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina.  A significant numbers of homes north of the CSX railroad tracks had wind damage and a small number of homes north of the CSX railroad tracks also had flooding damage caused by Hurricane Katrina's storm surge pushing water up the local rivers and streams.


    Katrina's Storm Surge was 25.7 ft above mean sea level plus wave action on top of the surge height in the City of Long Beach according to NOAA's final report.



Elevation is Important



blue house in Long Beach MS damaged by Hurricane Katrina   photograph of FEMA approved house in Long Beach

     Two homes, east side of Long Beach, between the City of Gulfport and the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus.  The room in blue is 1 or 2 city blocks closer to the beach than the other home.  The room in blue is also a few feet lower in elevation.  Please note, the home on the right was designed to meet the new FEMA code for flood elevation and includes the required security tie down strap.


     Elevation really is important.  The room in blue is missing the front wall of the house.  Three or four lots closer to the beach on the same street and a just a foot or so lower in elevation and the houses are completely gone.  At least the occupants of the room in blue could choose to salvage their clothing and maybe some personal belongings if they wished.  The white marks on the blue walls are the high tide marks of Katrina's storm surge caused by the debris in the house striking the walls.  It is definitive water-line marks such as these that will allow NOAA/NHC to determine the height of the storm surge.


    Additional note.  The photograph of the room in blue was taken on December 26th, 2005.  Nearly 4 months after Hurricane Katrina struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  It is doubtful the people that once lived in the room in blue are returning to collect their personal goods (or clothes) if they have not done so by now.

 


    The room in blue is why we waited until December 2005 to start taking photographs of the Katrina damage. While photos taken in the immediate aftermath might be more sensational and dramatic, allowing a window of time for storm victims to recover ever so slightly... and maybe recover a bit of their personal belongings is more civilized.

    Even with a time delay, many dramatic/compelling photographs, such as the room in blue, can still be found.




No, really, Elevation is VERY Important


photograph of St Thomas Church damaged by Hurricane Katrina   photograph of McDonalds destroyed by Hurricane Katrina

    St. Thomas Catholic Church (on the left) with the St. Thomas Parish Meeting Hall in the background.  St. Thomas Church adjoins the University of Southern Mississippi-Gulf Park campus.  The St. Thomas / USM area is believed to be some of the highest ground south of the CSX railroad tracks in Long Beach.  Both USM and St. Thomas were heavily damaged.


    The photograph to the right is what is believed to be the remains of McDonald's in Long Beach Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina.  It is hard to tell for sure whether it is McDonald's when there are no landmarks remaining to gain one's bearings.


    Update: St. Thomas Catholic Church as returned to their beachfront location.  USM-Gulf Park has been repaired.  Many of the Long Beach beach front businesses have failed to return.



No Landmarks


Long Beach MS beach front homes disappear after Hurricane Katrina   photograph of the steps to nowhere after Hurricane Katrina

    There are no landmarks.  Block after block, street after street, photograph after photograph, where 100's of homes once stood there is nothing left.  Nothing.  Oh there might be part of a house over there.  Maybe the concrete front steps to another house.  Sometimes, someone will return the one of the plastic Kings to a Nativity Set to the its rightful owner.  It is easy to get lost because even the street signs are missing.


    Then once in a while you can find your bearings.  Somebody has graciously nailed a sign to a tree marking the street address.  Trautman Ave is on the west side of Long Beach.  Relatively low elevation and very flat ground.  And even closer to where the eye of Hurricane Katrina will come ashore.


Trautman ave in Long Beach MS after Hurricane Katrina heavily damged the area


     The pale blue pipe laying next to the roadways are the temporary potable water service lines installed after Hurricane Katrina washed out (and destroyed) much of the underground potable water and sewer service in Long Beach south of the CSX railroad tracks.  The City, facing huge loses in homes destroyed by Katrina, had no choice but to provide emergency water and sewer to the area because a small number of homes were habitable and others could be quickly repaired.


    Long Beach is a mess.  But it is better to have been in Long Beach than Pass Christian.





Photographs of Pass Christian Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina



    Pass Christian is located on a small peninsula.  The Mississippi Sound is to the south.  St. Louis Bay to the west.  And bayous created by the Wolf River joining the St. Louis Bay are to the north.  The high ground of the City is the bluff over looking the Mississippi Sound along US Hwy 90.


    The classic bedroom community / sleepy little fishing village, Pass Christian was founded around 1800 on the high bluff over looking the Mississippi Sound and was officially deeded as a town in 1848.  Prior to the Civil War, Pass Christian was a popular summer vacation spot for wealthy merchants trying to escape the heat of New Orleans and as a result many fine homes were built on the high bluff facing the water.  That high bluff would become Scenic Drive over looking and running parallel to US Hwy 90.


    August 17, 1969 Hurricane Camille hit Pass Christian with winds estimated as high as 200 mph and a record 22.6 ft storm surge as the eye of Camille would pass over the St. Louis Bay... the body of water separating Pass Christian from Bay St. Louis.


    Much of Pass Christian was destroyed. 


    What was destroyed was rebuilt.


    And then came Hurricane Katrina.  Officially the eye path of Hurricane Katrina was a bit further to the west than path of Hurricane Camille.


    It wouldn't matter.  Katrina was physically larger (wider) and pushing far more water than Camille.


    The NOAA/National Hurricane Center's final report computed Katrina's surge at 27.8 ft in Pass Christian.  Easily 5 ft higher than Camille's surge in 1969.  And that is before the wave action is added on top of the surge.


    Pass Christian would get water from two directions... the primary surge directly from the Mississippi Sound with significant wave action and the secondary surge, with far less wave action, caused by the water pushed up the Bay of St. Louis and the bayous around the Wolf River on the north side of the city. 


    In the final count, nearly 95% of the buildings and homes in the City would be deemed uninhabitable.  The entire City.. not just a a few city blocks or the houses on one side of town... 95% of the ENTIRE City.



Welcome to Hurricane Katrina's Ground Zero



The High Ground


    Pass Christian had many summer homes for the wealthy merchants and plantation owners prior to the Civil War. All of these homes were located on Scenic Drive, a road that parallels US Hwy 90, on a large bluff overlooking the beach of Pass Christian.  Nearly all of the old homes had been placed on the National Registry of Historic Places by the US Department of the Interior:



National Register Home in Pass Christian survived Hurricane Katrina



    Some of these homes had been restored to their pre-Civil War splendor.  Others had been modernized.  If the elevation was high enough and construction sound enough these homes would be able to survive Hurricane Katrina with minimal problems:


home in Pass Christian survived Hurricane Katrina


another home survived Hurricane Katrina   modern beachfront home in Pass Christian MS survived Hurricane Katrina

Pass Christian Mississippi home after Hurricane Katrina




But most of the homes on Scenic Drive did not do so well:


photograph of a damaged home in Pass Christian after Hurricane Katrina



photograph of a destroyed home in Pass Christian after Hurricane Katrina   photograph of a gutted home in Pass Christian after Hurricane Katrina   photograph of two homes destroyed in Pass Christian Mississippi by Hurricane Katrina

And many of the homes had to be searched:


photograph of another gutted home on the beach front of Pass Christian Mississippi


The all important spray painted markings near the front door


    The search and rescue markings are standardized across all Federal Urban Search & Rescue teams.  The X inside the square may be written on the roof or any large visible flat surface facing roadways or other normal access points for others to visually determine the dwelling has been searched.  Within the X marking is the date (month and day) of the inspection.  On the left side of the X is the search team identifier. The right side of the X is used to identify unusual hazards not typically found during the searches of similar structures during the event. The bottom marks indicate the number and condition of victims found in the structure. 


    The Yellow sticker next to the door is the condemnation notice posted by the City several months after Hurricane Katrina making landfall.  The vast majority (possibly as high as 95%) of the homes in Pass Christian would quality for the yellow condemnation sticker. 




Away from Scenic Drive and it gets even worse:


photograph of destroyed apartments in Pass Christian MS by Hurricane Katrina

Beach front apartments in Pass Christian Mississippi.



    There were may Road Closed Signs along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.


photograph of road damage caused by Hurricane Katrina


Even if the roadway looked intact, often the supporting soil was washout.



walmart will return to Pass Christian Mississippi


Wal-Mart promises to rebuild in Pass Christian.


    January 2008. Wal-Mart has a building permit.  2009, Wal-Mart re-opens.  Wal-Mart is the largest property tax and sales tax generator for the City of Pass Christian.




St. Paul Catholic Church, Pass Christian


photograph of St Paul Catholic Church Pass Christian Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina


    Update, August 2010.  The Biloxi Catholic Diocese has determined that structural damage to the building frame is too severe and the only practical solution is to destroy the church building.  No information released concerning a new church building on the established site.



Pass Christian Police Station


Pass christian Police Station following Hurricane Katrina


    Pass Christian Police officers tried to ride out Hurricane Katrina in their 2nd St Police Station.  When the rising water was reaching chest height and the exit doors could not be opened because of the storm surge, the officers drew their weapons to break the windows and escape the building.  The police officers would finally found refuge in the Library behind the Police Station.  In the days after Katrina not a single Pass Christian Police Officer deserted their post.  Why can't New Orleans Police Department say the same thing?




One School Building Intact


photograph of Pass Christian school buildings destroyed by Hurricane Katrina


   Pass Christian School building and bus well inland from the beach.  CSX railroad in the foreground.  Katrina storm surge was flowing over the CSX railroad tracks throughout much of Pass Christian.  Water obviously came from the south via the beach, but water also came from the north via the St. Louis Bay and the bayous surrounding the Wolf River.


    The Pass Christian School District serves the City of Pass Christian and the adjoining rural areas of Harrison County.  Following Hurricane Katrina the only school building serviceable within the Pass Christian School District was the Delisle Elementary School (the elementary school servicing the rural area to the north of Pass Christian). Even though the Delisle Elementary School was intact, the school had taken some storm surge during Katrina and there was no water or sewer service as a result.  The US Navy Seabees were tasked with providing emergency water and sewer systems as well as clearing the land for portable classrooms to be installed so the children of Pass Christian could return to school.




Brian Nettle's Pottery Studio, Pass Christian Mississippi


Brian's studio destroyed by Hurricane Katrina   Everything gone in Pass Christian Mississippi following hurricane Katrina

   Downtown Pass Christian Mississippi was the home of Brian Nettle's pottery studio about 1/2 mile inland, near the CSX railroad.  The building (small house) for Brian's studio floated away from the slab leaving kilns and shelves behind.  Undated photo courtesy of Brian Nettles.  One of pottery kilns from Brian Nettles downtown Pass Christian studio was found near the CSX railroad tracks.  Notice house in the background that floated unto the tracks. Undated photo courtesy of Brian Nettles.


No. The kiln is not repairable.


wolf river near Pass Christian Mississippi


    Brian's home studio well inland on a high bluff overlooking the Wolf River after Katrina didn't far much better than his downtown Pass Christian studio.  Wave action from Hurricane Katrina were able to extract the pink fiberglass insulation from the ceiling of the studio.  The storm surge and waves were documented at 34' about sea level near Kiln Mississippi.  Kiln Mississippi is the home of Brent Farve (Green Bay Packer / New York Jets / Minnesota Vikings or maybe retired Quarterback ) and is about 6 miles from the Gulf of Mexico at the northern end of St. Louis Bay.  The Wolf River flows into St. Louis Bay, so Brian's studio is a few football throws from Kiln.  Undated photo courtesy of Brian Nettles.


    Technical note: Storm surge is measured as a still water mark without consideration of the height of wave action.  Measuring storm surge with wave action while meaningful in terms of damage potential is unless the storm surge itself is measured separately.  Storm surge is measured by the debris line or water mark inside of a building or other structure that is reasonably intact after the storm.



Photographs of St. Martin Community after Hurricane Katrina



    St. Martin is a bedroom community in Jackson County Mississippi, adjoining the northern shore of the Back Bay of Biloxi along Lemoyne Blvd between d'Iberville and Ocean Springs.  The land is low and flat and offered virtually no impediment to Hurricane Katrina's storm surge pushing water up the Back Bay of Biloxi.  d'Iberville and other parts of the north shore of the Back Bay of Biloxi had similar damage to what occurred in the St. Martin community.




St. Martin Middle School


St. Martin middle school destroyed by Hurricane Katrina   Hurricane Katrina destroyed St Martin Middle School

     The surge of Hurricane Katrina was estimated at about 6 to 8' above ground level through out most of the St. Martin Community based upon the debris marks and water lines inside the St. Martin Middle School classrooms.



Homes in St. Martin Community


photograph of a House collasped by Hurricane Katrina   photograph of another house collasped by Hurricane Katrina   everything gone in St Martin due to Hurricane Katrina's storm surge

Houses on just ONE street in the St. Martin community.


    Yes, every house has collapsed. EVERY house on one side of the street.  Most of the roofs and trees showed minimal damage.  Pretty obvious in determining all this damage was the result of Hurricane Katrina's Storm Surge flowing through the community.  The houses on the other side of the street were mostly standing upright though heavily damaged.... which just reinforces the idea that a few inches of elevation can be the difference between survival and complete destruction.  UPDATE:  By February 2006, every home on both sides of the street were reduced to slabs by demolition crews.


    The markings on the roof are from the search and rescue crew that inspected the house for survivors.  The yellow sticker is a condemnation notice..... as if the home could be repaired.


Note the mail box taped to the small stool.




Photographs of Biloxi Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina



    Dating from 1699, Biloxi is the oldest city on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and definitely the most unique city.    Commercial fishing, tourism and casinos have all played a major role in shaping Biloxi, much more so than any other city along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  And then there is Keesler AFB.  Keesler AFB is the home of the Hurricane Hunters... the Air Force Reserve unit that flies directly into the eye of the hurricane to assist the National Hurricane Center in developing the forecast of hurricanes.  Keesler AFB is also home of the 81St Training Wing and as such Keeler AFB handles 40,000 students per year, many of whom spend weeks or even months training at Keesler and become quite familiar with the local area.


    Geographically, the bulk of the City of Biloxi is located on a peninsula with the Back Bay of Biloxi to the north and the Mississippi Sound to the south.  When Hurricane Katrina storm surge hit the city, the flood waters could come from two directions.  The Point of Biloxi (the tip of the peninsula) was heavily damaged more so because of the flow of water much more than the height of the water.  The damage to Keesler AFB occurred with Katrina's secondary surge pushing water into the Back Bay of Biloxi rather than the direct flow from the Mississippi Sound.


    Officially Katrina's Storm Surge was 22.0 feet above mean sea level in Biloxi.  NOAA/NHC was able to document damage 34.1 ft above mean sea level damage at the Beau Rivage Casino caused by 11' waves + 1' tides + the 22' storm surge of Katrina.


    Biloxi was not unique in the height of the waves... unfortunately NOAA was unable to accurately verify the actual extreme wave height at any other location along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  One can speculate the waves may have been higher closer to the storm but there is no official notice of such.



The Floating Biloxi Casinos


    The floating casino barges did fairly well in Hurricane Katrina.  Fairly well in that they remained intact.  Sometimes the barge was displaced up to 1 mile from its mooring position.  Sometimes the barge was capsized.  But the barges did remain intact.  Big Whoopee.


photograph of Biloxi Grand Casino following Hurricane Katrina   photograph of Biloxi Casino Magic following Hurricane Katrina   photograph of Biloxi Palace Casino destroyed by Hurricane Katrina


photograph of the Biloxi President Casino destroyed by Hurricane Katrina   photograph of Biloxi Treasure Bay destroyed by Hurricane Katrina

    Top Row of Katrina Photographs, from left to right:


    The floating barge of the Grand Casino Biloxi found a new home about 1/2 mile from its hurricane proof moorings.  The barge was rotated 180° (east-west rotation) and is resting on the north side of US Hwy 90 on the site of the future George Ohr Museum.  Light poles were replaced after Katrina.  Somehow the moderate sized Live Oak tree in the median of US Hwy 90 was missed by the casino barge.


     The Casino Magic barge floated from its moorings and became beached directly across the street from the hotel.  A portion of St. Michael's Catholic Church (below) can be seen in the right background of the photograph. 


photograph of Biloxi St Michael Church following Hurricane Katrina      Somebody up above must have been looking out for the church because the Casino Magic barge could have easily taken out the church.

UPDATE:    St. Michael's has been restored and reopened.

 

    The Palace Casino was located just north of the Biloxi-Ocean Springs Hwy 90 bridge. The Palace Casino partially capsized but did not float away from the moorings.  Nearly four months after Katrina and the little truck in the foreground had yet to be removed from the water.  The damaged bridge in the photograph is part of the fishing pier from the pre-Camille US Hwy 90 bridge.  The US Hwy 90 bridge was severely damaged by Hurricane Camille and as such had to be replaced because the draw bridge mechanism could not be repaired and the bridge itself could no longer handle heavy truck traffic.  The draw bridge unit was removed and the remainder of the bridge was converted to fishing piers.

 

    Bottom Row of Katrina Photographs, from left to right: 


    The President Casino barge broke free the moorings at the Broadwater Marina and floated away with the final resting place against a hotel near the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.

 

    Treasure Bay Casino, Biloxi Mississippi. The casino barge was built into a pirate themed tall mast ship.  The casino barge broke free of the hurricane moorings and became beached.  The remnants of the boardwalk to reach the casino barge can be seen in the water in the right background.  The land based portion of the Casino can be seen in the left background.


The Beau Rivage Casino



photograph of Beau Rivage Casino damaged by Hurricane Katrina   Hurricane Katrina destroyed the Beau Rivage parking garage

    The 32 story high, massive Beau Rivage casino hotel and parking garage.  The Beau Rivage did not go unscathed.  The Beau Rivage had damage to the casino barge (not visible from land) and the lower floors of the hotel and parking garage.  Without The Beau (and nearby HardRock Hotel and Casino) protecting much of downtown Biloxi from the waves of Hurricane Katrina's storm surge it is doubtful downtown buildings, including the Old French House, would have survived.  The Old French House, circa 1737, was built by the original French settlers that founded at Biloxi in 1699 under the direction of Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville.  Katrina's surge was able to reach the second floor of the restaurant, but there was no significant wave action in the Old French House because the large Beau Rivage Casino is located between the restaurant and the Gulf of Mexico.



Edgewater Mall



photograph of the Biloxi edgewater mall following Hurricane Katrina


    The modest size Live Oak in front of Dillard's store at Edgewater mall is several hundreds years old and has probably survived dozens of hurricanes.  The storm surge of Hurricane Katrina, as with Hurricane Camille in 1969, would flood all of the stores in Edgewater Mall, but with some careful sandbagging (and well built buildings to be begin with) Edgewater Mall would survive to sell stuff another day.  Sears was the first store to open in Edgewater Mall about 1 month after Hurricane Katrina.  Dog food, pots and pans, bedding and other critical household and food stuffs were the products sold by Sears.  The unusual selection of items were added to the normal Sears selection of products by her sister store K-Mart because few large stores of any kind had reopened along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.



photograph of Biloxi McDonalds following hurricane Katrina 


    McDonalds at Edgewater Village in the front of Edgewater Mall.  The slab in the foreground of the photograph is the remains of Wendy's.  Wendy's rebuilt, McDonalds did not as the former McDonalds property (and the Chevron property seen in the far background) was used to improve traffic access between Edgewater Mall and US Hwy 90.



photograph of Biloxi Live Oak Trees destroyed by Hurricane Katrina


    The remains of two small Southern Live Oak trees in the median of US Hwy 90, near Edgewater Mall, West Biloxi.  The Southern Live Oak, Quercus virginiana, have covered much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast since the beginning of time.  The two small Live Oaks seen in the photograph above may predate the construction of US Hwy 90 in the 1920's or may have been planted in recent decades.


    The largest Southern Live Oak tree on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is the Friendship Oak on the USM-Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach.  The Friendship Oak, 50 ft height, 150 ft spread of foliage, and trunk diameter of nearly 6 feet (18+ ft in circumference) is estimated in age to predate Christopher Columbus visiting the New World.  The Friendship Oak was slightly damaged during Katrina but has rebounded quite well


    Many of the small, heavily damaged Southern Live Oaks adjoining US Hwy 90 did not recover from Hurricane Katrina.  The trunks of the destroyed trees were converted into works of art, such as sculptures of dolphins, pelicans and other indigenous marine life and left standing in place.





Beauvoir


photograph of Biloxi Beauvoir heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina


   Beauvoir, completed in 1852, would become the retirement home of Confederate President Jeff Davis in 1877.  The grounds of Beauvoir include museums, the Jeff Davis Presidential Library and the resting place of the unknown Confederate Soldier.  Until the late 1950's, Beauvoir served as a no-charge retirement home for Civil War veterans and their widows.


   The main house was restored at estimated cost of $4.1 million.  Federal funds covered only $2.5 Million of the restoration costs.  The balance of the funds were raised from private donations.


   October 6, 2009: Beauvoir announced the contract to rebuild the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library and Museum at a cost of $10.4 Million has been awarded with construction to be completed in 550 days from the ground breaking on Sunday, December 6, 2009. According to news media reports, FEMA will pay 90% of the cost of rebuilding the Library and Museum.




On the Beach Landmarks


    In Biloxi, more so than any other city along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, there were a number of prominent buildings located south of US Hwy 90 adjoining the beach.  Were.  Past tense.  Very few were left standing and those that were standing were in very poor condition.


photograph of Biloxi Sharkheads destroyed by Hurricane Katrina



    Sharkheads souvenir stand was very visible prior to Hurricane Katrina.  The four story, former bank building, painted pink adjoined a large single story showroom adorned with an open mouth shark as the entrance way.  Only the pink building remains and the building isn't exactly in great shape.  Sharkheads will rebuild but will be required to significantly raise the building above the US Hwy 90 elevation to meet the new FEMA flood codes.



photograph of Biloxi Small Craft Harbor destroyed by Hurricane Katrina


   The harbor master's house at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor. The modern building was suppose to be hurricane proof.  Surprise, surprise, it wasn't.


    The harbor master's house will be rebuilt.  The question is whether the building will be raised to a higher elevation and whether the first floor can have public access areas, such as restrooms, and still meet FEMA flood code and building requirements. 


   McElroy's Harbor House Seafood Restaurant, also at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor has finally announced their rebuilding plans.  The Harbor House is one of the few local seafood restaurants located in a waterfront location that has announced their rebuilding plans.



Biloxi Beachfront Residences


    In Biloxi, as with all of the Mississippi Gulf Coast cities, there were a number of apartment and condo complexes as well as large antebellum homes over looking the beach.  Most of those homes are gone.




photograph of Biloxi beachfront Condos destroyed by Hurricane Katrina


    One of the more distinctive condo/apartment units were the Pelican Cove Condos just east of the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor and Downtown Biloxi.  The first two floors of the condos were washed away, but the building itself remained standing.


    Located between the Pelican Cove Condos and the Biloxi Town Green was the Santa Maria tower.  The 13 story tall retirement home was deemed uninhabitable following Hurricane Katrina storm surge damage to the first floor and wind damage to the upper floors.  The Diocese could have rebuilt onsite, but since the building was within the 3-ft wave zone of the flood maps the decision was made to relocate the retirement complex to a site near I-10 and well beyond any potential flood zones.





Biloxi's History


photograph of Biloxi Seafood Museum destroyed by Hurricane Katrina


    Biloxi, may have been founded by the French to protect their interests from the Spanish, but the commercial fishing industry is what put Biloxi on the map.  Biloxi's fishing heritage was shown in the Biloxi Seafood Museum near Point Cadet (Isle of Capri seen in the background above and through the destroyed Seafood Museum). 


photograph of the Goiden Fisherman damaged by Hurricane Katrina


   The Golden Fisherman.  A larger than life sculpture weighing several tons and made from salvaged commercial fishing gear in tribute to the generations of fisherman that settled Biloxi and provided the majority of the local industry during much of the 20th Century.  Hwy 90 bridge in the immediate background.  Deer Island in the far background.  The 18' tall Golden Fisherman was left in place following Hurricane Katrina because it was a clear reminder about the force of Katrina, the City of Biloxi lacked a place to store the sculpture (even if they could move it) and it was highly doubtful than anybody would try to move the scrap metal themselves.


    Biloxi was wrong.  Metal thieves from Mobile Alabama found their way to Biloxi and stole the Golden Fisherman in hopes of selling the sculpture as scrap metal.  Most of the pieces were found near Mobile AL.


    May Hell hold a special place for metal thieves.


   Update:  It may not be possible to restore The Golden Fisherman.  Biloxi hopes to one day showcase the remains of the sculpture in the Biloxi Seafood Museum after it is rebuilt on Point Cadet.



Hurricane Katrina gutted the Point Cadet Coast Guard Station


    The U.S. Coast Guard Air Station, Biloxi, Mississippi was constructed from land donated by the City of Biloxi adjoining the Biloxi Bay Bridge at the point of the Biloxi Peninsula.  This 6 acre site and the area around it would become known as Point Cadet, or in Biloxi lingo, simple as "The Point".  The Coast Guard Air Station was closed following the end of WWII and the advent of better flying boats capable of taking off and landing from fully developed runways.  Following the departure of the Coast Guard, Biloxi used the hanger to support public events, and the surrounding land for the Biloxi Seafood Museum.




The Biloxi Landmark that isn't a Landmark.


photograph of the US Hwy 90 bridge destroyed by Hurricane Katrina


    Few bridges across the USA are considered landmarks.  Sure there are the big names (Golden Gate, Mackinac, Brooklyn etc) that come to mind, but most bridges are fairly unassuming structures and often ignored.  One such easily ignored bridge was the Biloxi-Ocean Springs US Highway 90 Bridge.


    The Biloxi Bay Bridge, aka the Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge, is the name for the simple beam and draw bridge built in the early 1960's to connect Ocean Springs and Biloxi via US Hwy 90.  The Biloxi Bay Bridge replaced an earlier beam bridge (circa 1930's) that was partially dismantled and used as fishing piers over the Back Bay of Biloxi following the completion of the Biloxi Bay Bridge.  As far as bridges go the Biloxi Bay Bridge was pretty basic and easily ignored, even after the bridge was damaged (but not destroyed) by Hurricane Camille in 1969.  As with many other things on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, what Camille did not destroy, Katrina did.


    Following Hurricane Katrina, the Biloxi Bay Bridge may have been the most photographed bridge in the country.


    Our photograph of the Biloxi Bay Bridge was taken from Biloxi's Point Cadet Plaza and the site of the Golden Fisherman sculpture.


    The replacement Biloxi Bay Bridge formally opened in April 2008.  The new Biloxi Bay Bridge is no longer a draw bridge, rather it is a simple beam bridge supporting 6 lanes of traffic that is 95' above sea level at its main span to allow ship traffic to easily pass.  While the landing points of the new bridge exactly match the landing points of the old Biloxi Bay Bridge to join up with US Hwy 90, the landing points have been elevated to reduce the chance of damage during future storms.  The span of the new bridge also curves radically to the south.  This curve in the bridge allowed the new bridge to be quickly built while the debris of the old bridge was slowly removed.




THE Biloxi Landmark


photograph of the Biloxi Lighthouse surviving Hurricane Katrina


    Definitely the the single most photographed object in the City of Biloxi and maybe, just maybe, the single most photographed object or person in the entire State of Mississippi, the Biloxi Lighthouse has survived the Civil War and the countless hurricanes that have struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast including Camille and Katrina.


    The Biloxi Lighthouse was the second cast iron lighthouse commissioned by the United States Government in the 1840's (completion date 1848) and is one of the few surviving cast iron lighthouses in America.  The Biloxi Lighthouse is 61 ft in total height, with the cast iron section itself (from the base to the floor of the lantern room) 45' in height.  The cast iron section is lined with brick work that is marked with the high water marks of the various hurricanes to strike the Mississippi Gulf Coast is the past century plus.  Those various hurricanes have made more than a high water mark on the Biloxi Lighthouse as the extensive repair and restoration work has been required on the lighthouse as well as the support structure that was frequently washed out by each of the major storms.


    Since the 1930's, the Biloxi Lighthouse has held a unique position in America as the only lighthouse located in the median of a major 4 lane highway.  Yes, US Hwy 90 was developed from the former beach road and the East-West lanes of the highway are divided by a median (as are many roads) and in the middle of the median sits the Biloxi Lighthouse. 


    In 1966 the Biloxi Lighthouse was decommissioned as an active Coast Guard lighthouse required for navigation and turned over to the City of Biloxi for use as a private lighthouse.  Biloxi has restored and maintained the lighthouse ever since.




Looking Forward


Sunrise on a new day


August 03, 2007


Mississpi Car Tag



    Every 5 years the design of the Mississippi car tag is changed.  According to the Mississippi State Tax Commission this is the first time that the Mississippi State Tree and Flower (Magnolia) has been kicked off the tag in lieu of another symbol of Mississippi.  The Biloxi Lighthouse, built in 1848, was chosen by the state as the Biloxi Lighthouse had survived the Civil War as well as countless hurricanes including Hurricane Katrina.  According to the Tax Commission spokesperson the Biloxi Lighthouse is "symbolic of surviving Katrina and resilience.  We felt it had to be daybreak, sunrise on a new day".

 




    A sincere Thank You to the many church and non-profit groups that have been active in the rebuilding efforts on Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Your efforts have touched many people's lives and are truly appreciated.



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website last updated: February 2014




Dogwood Ceramic Supply


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