The Mississippi Gulf Coast marked the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by both looking back – honoring the storm’s first responders – and looking forward, at the progress made since. MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports.
It was a reunion of sorts at Gulfport’s Jones Park on Friday. There were the Gulf Coast mayors who led their cities during the storm; then-Governor Haley Barbour; and then-President George W. Bush.
“Last time I was here, it didn’t look quite this pretty," President Bush said. "It was just totally devastated. But to see all the boats and the cranes – it’s a testimony to the recovery of the Gulf Coast.”Current Governor Phil Bryant hosted the event, which honored the thousands of first responders – from 46 states and Puerto Rico - who came to Mississippi’s aid after Hurricane Katrina.
“It was so great to have President Bush back on the Mississippi Gulf Coast," Governor Bryant said. "He knows a lot of these individuals personally, and it shows how we’re moving ahead here on the Gulf Coast.”
Mississippi Emergency Management director Robert Latham says he sees the anniversary as a milestone of sorts as well.
“This will be the turning point, I think, because we can now say, look at the coast, it’s not like it was, it’s better, it’s more resilient," Latham said. "I think it’s something we all can be proud of and should be proud of.”
And for MDOT law enforcement southern region commander Michael Forman, it’s also a chance to add some good memories to the bad. He worked on the Coast for several months after the storm, assisting local law enforcement agencies.
“Now we come here, and we can see how resilient the people are, the departments that we worked with - it’s just a good feeling," Forman said.
Other Katrina events, from memorial services to concerts, were also held on the Gulf Coast throughout the weekend.