WAVELAND -- A special memorial service recognizing the eighth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the opening of the new Ground Zero Museum will be held at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Waveland Civic Center on Coleman Avenue. The public is invited to attend.
The names of those who lost their lives in Katrina will be read by community leaders from Bay St. Louis, Waveland, Hancock County and Diamondhead.
Following the service, all are invited to see the first exhibit at Waveland's Ground Zero Hurricane Museum in this historic building. It is the only building on Coleman Avenue that survived Hurricane Katrina.
This exhibit will feature a pictorial history of the Old Waveland School, the renovation of the building by a grant from Mississippi Archives and History after Hurricane Katrina, and renovations of St. Clare Catholic Church.
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Among the special mementos on display is the flag that flew over the Waveland fire station during Hurricane Katrina and newspaper articles about Hurricane Camille.
There is also a comparative map of land fall and storm surge of Hurricane Camille and Hurricane Katrina supplied by the National Weather Service.
Ward 1 Alderman LiLi Stahler said that the Ground Zero museum is important to the city.
"After Katrina, we lost all of our history. We have very little from our past," she said. "For many of our residents, the bricks and mortar of this building are all they have left of their childhood."
The building has rooms for public meetings, an auditorium and senior citizen facilities.
One room showcases a hand-carved carousel called "The Carousel of the Olympic Sea" that was donated by the Port Townsend Washington Carousel Association to the city of Waveland after Hurricane Katrina.
"It's a work in progress. This is just the beginning," said Stahler of the museum. "We have lots of big plans and lots of things in the works."
The memorial service event is chaired by Mary Perkins, public affairs/development officer for the Hancock County Library System.
"I'm a firm believer that we need to recognize the lives lost in Katrina," said Perkins of the 57 people who perished in the storm, 24 of whom were in Waveland.
She said that some people have the attitude of "that's over with, let's move on."
"It's great to move on," she said, "but we need to remember the losses."
Her desire for the memorial service gave museum committee members the push to go ahead and show off the museum to the public.
"We're testing the waters to see what kind of response we get," said Stahler.
In addition to honoring the people of Waveland, the purpose of the museum is to attract visitors to Waveland. If tourists stop off to see the museum, Stahler says it will give them the opportunity to explore the city.
Next, she and museum committee members plan to "hit the streets" seeking corporate sponsorship to meet their financial goal of $497,000 to bring the museum to completion.
"We hope to be nearly finished by the next Katrina anniversary," she said. "And by the 10th we should have something really amazing."