Thoughts as we approach the two-year point

Here are Mayor A.J. Holloway’s thoughts on Biloxi at two years after Katrina, based on his comments to media members in the days and weeks before Aug. 29, 2007, the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina striking Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

—I think Biloxi is doing well because we were not broke or broken before the storm.

—We were successfully dealing with issues like affordable housing. Our school system was winning national awards and recognition. We created 15,000 jobs. We invested $200 million in infrastructure – things like streets and drainage, city facilities, parks and recreation, and historic preservation.

—Today, our casino industry employs 17,000 people, 2,000 more than before Katrina. The Biloxi industry has reported record gaming revenue in one fashion or another in 9 of the past 11 months, including an all-time high of $97 million last month.

—We’ve issued more than $700 million in building permits since the storm, of which $444 million is non-casino and non-condo.

—At the same time, people would get the wrong idea if they think we’ve recovered from Hurricane Katrina and everything is business as usual. It’s far from that.

—We lost 6,000 of 25,000 homes and businesses – more than a quarter of our homes and businesses.

—And although we’ve issued in the neighborhood of 20,000 permits since the storm, we’ve only issued 307 permits for new homes. Most have been for storm repairs and commercial construction.

–We still have more than 400 FEMA trailers in Biloxi. We think our population is about 3 to 5 percent off the pre-Katrina Census of 50,644, but people are not living in the same parts of the city as they were before the storm.

—We knew from the outset that some areas would rebuild quicker than others. That some would take years, and some are never going to rebuild – at least where they were.

—Insurance, new flood elevations, cost of construciton, selling out and moving to higher ground.

—We’re building back responsibly.

—I’m very proud of how residents have dealt with this catastrophe. There’s a sense of resolve and resilience.

Background on the issues

–Record gaming revenue, click here.

–Construction and permitting, click here.

–Why Biloxi is such a compelling story, click here.

–Before, during and after Katrina photos and video, click here.

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