Remembering Hurricane Katrina in Photographs: Hotels, Casinos and Other Public Buildings, 2005

s I walked along the beach in Biloxi back in September of 2005 where casinos, restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops once stood, there was a flurry of activity. Workers clearing out buildings; bucket loaders and other heavy-duty construction equipment manned by their operators scooping mounds of refuse and loading them onto dump trucks whose drivers carted the trash away; reporters — such as Stephanie Abrams of The Weather Channel, who was standing on the beach in a lightweight blue parka out in the sunshine — broadcasted the latest on the progress of the recovery efforts.

Ironically — in part due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Camille on Sunday, August 17, 1969 — the tourist industry of the Mississippi Gulf Coast still had not recovered as late as the 1980s; so interest increased for the gambling industry to return to Mississippi on a limited basis where the gambling could only occur at dockside on the Gulf of Mexico and in waterways such as the Mississippi River.

Members of the Mississippi Legislature passed the Mississippi Gaming Control Act on Friday, June 29, 1990, which stated that casino gambling was allowed only in counties along the Mississippi River and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast — provided that the voters who were based in those eligible areas approved it. The casinos had to be able to float out to sea in the event of a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina, which tested that provision. That obviously did not work, as the photographs shown below illustrate.

Today, casinos are now permitted to be built on land within a certain distance of water; but let us go back in time to September of 2005.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

The building which housed hotel rooms of the Treasure Bay Casino was also significantly damaged. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Once a Sheraton hotel, the Treasure Bay Casino and Hotel building shown above — which was significantly damaged by Hurricane Katrina — was renovated and is still in use today.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

These are the remnants of the old Treasure Bay Casino, which was in the form of a pirate ship. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

The casino portion of Treasure Bay was housed in a replica of a pirate ship.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

The pirate ship was so substantially damaged by Hurricane Katrina that it was eventually demolished.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Workers are busy working on what was once the “pirate ship” of the Treasure Bay Casino. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

The building in the photograph shown below was also irreparable…

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

…so it was demolished as well.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

The remainder of what was once the old Treasure Bay Casino was so heavily damaged that it was demolished. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Drainage pipes await to be installed under ground as they sit in front of what was once part of the Treasure Bay Casino. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Concrete drainage pipes sit on the ground on the south side of Beach Boulevard — also known as United States Highway 90 — in Biloxi. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Mounds upon mounds of refuse were still piling up and waiting to be collected and taken away.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Heavy equipment was needed to remove all of the refuse.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

This concrete building of condominiums on the beach in Biloxi was under construction at the time when Hurricane Katrina arrived at the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It is believed that this structure saved some of the houses and buildings located immediately north of it. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

The Tivoli Hotel — also known as the Trade Winds Hotel and was once a luxury hotel which became a landmark — was so severely damaged when a casino barge ran aground into it during Hurricane Katrina that it could not be saved.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

It was demolished in May of 2006.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Beauvoir was the home of Jefferson Davis after the Civil War of the United States. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

The Beauvoir estate was the former home of Jefferson Davis after the conclusion of the Civil War of the United States. Parts of it had just been restored prior to the unwelcome arrival of Hurricane Katrina. Greater than a third of the collections housed within Beauvoir are forever lost; but Beauvoir itself was restored and once again opened to the public in June of 2008.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Long Beach was heavily damaged; but has since been rebuilt. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Officially dedicated on Wednesday, July 19, 1905, St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Long Beach was already ravaged by both the hurricane of 1947 and by Hurricane Camille before landfall on Sunday, August 17, 1969.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

The church once again sustained substantial damage when confronted with the brunt brute forces of Hurricane Katrina…

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

…but it was eventually rebuilt yet again and thrives to this day.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Many traffic lights still were not in operation, creating difficulty for driving around the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

New Orleans may have received much of the attention today on the tenth anniversary of the arrival of Hurricane Katrina to the gulf coast of the United States; but the stalwart residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast had proven their resiliency to the worst of whatever comes their way — and their determination and persistence deserves accolades, in my opinion.

All photographs ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

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