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Looting, flooding, coping after Katrina

A section of the bridge connecting Ocean Springs with Biloxi is destroyed by hurricane Katrina in Biloxi, Mississippi. Photo: REUTERS/Marc Serota

It’s a complete disaster in New Orleans. I cannot even fathom how that city will even begin to recover. Whether a city that is below sea level should be rebuilt in a hurricane region will probably be discussed, but that’s another matter — wait and see what happens when the insurance companies come in; they are unlikely to cover dwellings and businesses. They left Florida after Andrew; and portions of the NC coast got the same treatment after Fran and Bertha.

Over in Mississippi, Kate’s sister, who evacuated from Ocean Springs, MS to the interior of Alabama to ride out the storm, doesn’t know the full status of the three-story apartment building (she lived on the first floor) or her car, which was parked out there in the lot.

Boats aground near a waterfront neighborhood in Ocean Springs, Miss. (AP Photo/John David Mercer, Pool)

A friend that was able to call briefly on her cell (guess at least one tower was OK for a few minutes) said that she was able to see that the apartments were still standing, but couldn’t tell the extent of the damage other than there was a hole in the roof. No power, no landline phones, of course. The friend that called her was able to drive back to see that there is a tree through the roof of their house..

Ocean Springs, in relation to Biloxi. The bridges between the two locations have been destroyed.


In devastated Biloxi, Miss., areas that were not underwater were littered with tree trunks, downed power lines and chunks of broken concrete. Some buildings were flattened. The string of floating barge casinos crucial to the coastal economy were a shambles. At least three of them were picked up by the storm surge and carried inland, their barnacle-covered hulls sitting up to 200 yards inland.

The deadliest spot yet appeared to be Biloxi’s Quiet Water Beach apartments, where authorities said about 30 people were washed away. All that was left of the red-brick building was a concrete slab. “We grabbed a lady and pulled her out the window and then we swam with the current,” 55-year-old Joy Schovest said through tears. “It was terrifying. You should have seen the cars floating around us. We had to push them away when we were trying to swim.”

…Looting became a problem in both Biloxi and in New Orleans, in some cases in full view of police and National Guardsmen. One police officer was shot in the head by a looter in New Orleans, but was expected to recover, Sgt. Paul Accardo, a police spokesman.

…Outside the broken shells of Biloxi’s casinos, people picked through slot machines to see if they still contained coins and ransacked other businesses. “People are just casually walking in and filling up garbage bags and walking off like they’re Santa Claus,” said Marty Desei, owner of a Super 8 motel.

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Cops, fire fighters join in the looting

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding