Remembering Hurricane Katrina in Photographs: A Grave Situation in Biloxi, 2005
M any of the old live oak trees were stripped of most of their evergreen leaves and hanging moss as the bright sun shone down on Old Biloxi Cemetery on the north side of Beach Boulevard, which is part of United States Highway 90 in Biloxi; and many of the headstones which marked the grave sites for decades — some dating back to the 1800s — were either toppled or broken into pieces as a result of enduring the brutal brunt of the rushing floodwaters and sustained winds of up to 120 miles per hour of Hurricane Katrina ten years ago.
Rusted fences were twisted; iron chains were haphazardly strewn about; grave sites themselves were disturbed; and some trees were snapped and reduced to stumps in the oldest section of what is also known as the Old French Cemetery or Biloxi City Cemetery. Loose bricks were stacked in piles — presumably by local residents who attempted to preserve the memory of their loved ones.
One statue of Madonna appeared to still be on the lookout in the shadows of the live oak trees — seemingly standing guard of the old cemetery in which she stood for years.
The shapes and lines of the shadows of the trees created a fascinatingly complex yet irregular design which exacerbated the random chaos and mayhem left behind from that morning of August 29…
…and across the highway under clear skies, the blue waters of the Mississippi Sound which briefly covered this cemetery in a violent maelstrom of flooded fury lapped calmly and innocently against the eroded beach — as though nothing ever happened…
The cemetery has since been restored; and if you happen to find yourself in Biloxi, you can visit free of charge. Although I was able to park on a side street off Beach Boulevard, the official address of the cemetery is 1166 Irish Hill Drive, Biloxi, Mississippi 39530; and the telephone number is 1-228-435-6279.
All photographs ©2005 by Brian Cohen.