The $1.6 million Biloxi Port Commission building, designed by architect Walter T. Bolton, opened in December 2001 in the Small Craft Harbor.
The bottom floors were constructed to "blow out," in the words of port manager Frankie Duggan, and that might be why the three-story structure still stands where nothing else does.
"The first two floors washed out, which they were designed to do," said Duggan. "Not a paper ruffled on the third floor but the force of the water against the windows forced mud in."
The first floor was the lobby and bathrooms, showers and laundry rooms for boaters. The second floor was a big meeting room, harbormaster's office and two offices leased by the Biloxi Bay Chamber of Commerce.
On the third floor was Duggan's office, and the staff was able to remove computers and other things immediately after the storm.
"At this point, I don't know if we have to take the building down and start over," said Duggan. "We'll have engineers tell us if it's still structurally sound.
"We're still dealing with FEMA on the V-Zone, the velocity zone that gets highest surge, water, winds. We're going to see what they allow for us to do, and we'll soon come up with a plan.
"I'm looking forward to coming back bigger and better, and this is the time to do it."
- KAT BERGERON