Hurricane Katrina


PASCAGOULA - It may be hard to see right now, but Beach Boulevard will once again be one of the city's premiere residential sites.

The area was especially hard-hit during Hurricane Katrina, with almost all the million-dollar beachfront homes destroyed by the storm's powerful surge.

But city officials say they've talked to lots of homeowners who are planning to rebuild.

So far, only eight building permits have been issued. But the city knows that number will grow in coming months. They estimate they've heard from about half of the area's residents, who plan to rebuild.

Most of Beach Boulevard looks far different than it did when the storm first hit, leveling homes, demolishing vehicles and uprooting trees.

The area has seen a massive cleanup since the storm, with the majority of debris once strewn about like lawn fertilizer no longer littering the area.

Some residents feared the neighborhood would look just as grim now as it did then.

Alton Vann Jr. lost his business and home in the storm and his son's home was severely damaged. But he's planning to build back anyway. He's already picked out his plans to build an elevated two-story home with a ground-floor garage and enough living space for three bedrooms, 2½ baths and an outdoor porch.

Neighbor Johnny Sykes said he, too, is finalizing his plan to build a one-story home to replace his two-story home that collapsed on top of the first floor during the storm.

Like Vann, Sykes said it would take a lot more than a little water to scare him and a lot of his neighbors off. "These people are tough," he said. "They're not whiners or criers.

"They're people of action. They're not going to run. They're going to do something about the situation. I'm very proud of my town."

The series

The Sun Herald this month continues its 30 Communities in 30 Days series, which looks at how area neighborhoods are recovering from Hurricane Katrina. We will update these stories every six months.

Buddy White speaks with Tom Jones as he empties crab traps in front of his Beach Boulevard home in Pascagoula. Jones says the crabs are fuller and more plentiful than normal. His house was washed to the slab by Hurricane Katrina, but he plans to rebuild.

Cabinet maker Luis Quentez, left, shows his work to Beach Boulevard residents, from center left, Rick, Maura and Bethany Whitlock at their Pascagoula home recently. The family will be among the first to return to their remodeled home. The house took a lot of damage from Hurricane Katrina, but the framework was still standing which enabled the Whitlocks to rebuild more quickly.

What Katrina did

Beach Boulevard and its associated neighborhoods are north of the seawall. Hurricane Katrina damaged or destroyed piers and wiped out many of the brick homes north of the road; those that remained were gutted. Parts of the road along the waterway were torn up.