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Hurricane Katrina: Devestation in Biloxi

August 31, 2005 at 12:00 AM EDT


PAUL: Totally devastated and gone. These were businesses that used to exist before the Hurricane Katrina.

KEME NZEREM: Paul is looking for his friend. His bar used to be on the beach here. But now it’s gone.

PAUL: I was working in this bar the night before the hurricane came through.

KEME NZEREM: It’s gone. There’s nothing left.

PAUL: There’s absolutely nothing left. Except for the sign. It’s no longer here. And I no longer have a job.

KEME NZEREM: Gulfport, Biloxi’s 27-mile man made beach is quite frankly no more, Hurricane Katrina leveling the town and also social barriers. Million dollar mansions and shacks alike, the storm did not discriminate. And amid the wreckage, heart felt reunions.

MAN: The reason I’m still here is because of that.

KEME NZEREM: That protected you. That big building behind you.

MAN: That protected me.

KEME NZEREM: If that wasn’t there you would have been flattened.

MAN: Would have been gone.

MAN: I didn’t think it would be that bad. I really didn’t. I underestimated it.

MAN: The water level. It was all in the garage and of course everything floated.

MAN: My apartment complex is in the Gulf.

MAN: Looks like a battle zone.

KEME NZEREM: People here have run out of everything. There’s still no power, not long after sunrise it’s already in the 90s. It’s starting to smell fetid.

KEME NZEREM: Hey, if it helps.

MAN: Oh, man.

KEME NZEREM: Every little, eh?

MAN: Thank you.

KEME NZEREM: I guess you could call Paul and Eddy lucky. Many were not. At least 30 killed when their apartment block collapsed. Even those already at peace weren’t spared.

What you can see about two miles in the distance is a floating casino ship. There was another floating casino there. That casino is now here. It’s moved two miles down the beach and in doing so it’s completely leveled this hotel.

This was a 20-row Holiday Inn and it’s completely gone. About three rows. The power of this thing was devastating. Today the beach an escape route, casino workers no longer with jobs, many simply with nowhere to go.

MAN: We’re from Oregon, California.

KEME NZEREM: Are you going to be coming back here soon?

MAN: No, probably not in my lifetime.

WOMAN: Probably not in our lifetime.

KEME NZEREM: What is the situation back there?

WOMAN: It’s horrible.

MAN: Pretty much. Houses are gone. People have lost all their stuff.

WOMAN: Total chaos. Flattened.

MAN: Our house was completely covered in mud.

OLDER WOMAN: Anybody on the first floor wouldn’t have made it.

KEME NZEREM: And neighbors, now bonded by more than just proximity.

OLDER WOMAN: The storm surge would take it up. Then after a little bit it would come down and then it would rise again and each time it came in it got higher and higher. It was way over our heads. It was probably what? About 12 feet?

MAN: The first floor was completely covered, windows and all.

KEME NZEREM: The beach front, a wretched reminder: this is all that’s left.