Friday, Biloxi residents, first responders, city officials, and Bishop Roger Morin gathered at Biloxi’s annual Hurricane Katrina memorial observance on the Biloxi Town Green to honor the memory of these storm victims.
The storm has passed, but no life went untouched as Katrina roared across our shores nine years ago. Fifty two Biloxians died that day. Claudine Thompson’s friends and neighbors on Lee Street were among them. Thompson says, "When I got back, everyone’s home was destroyed, but mine was still sitting under two oak trees and that was a blessing even though we got ten feet of water in my home, so that was a blessing, but I saw all my other friends and neighbors. Their homes were destroyed and some even died in the storm. That made me sad."
Thompson and others paused to remember those who perished in the storm at Biloxi’s annual Hurricane Katrina observance. They also offered up a prayer for those who continue to rebuild. Bishop Roger Morin says, "We come to you to memorialize those who lost their lives in Katrina and we pray for those who still labor under the stress and strain of that disaster."
One memory brings Biloxi’s finest to tears. Sgt. Jackie Rhodes of the Biloxi Police Department says, "I saw this elderly couple around the remains of their house. Their roof was on the ground. They were trying to dig around to see what they could find.”
Had it not been for Sgt. Rhodes’ and other heroes’ valiant efforts, more names would be etched on the memorial. Rhodes also says, "Oak Street, we picked up some folks from the Buddhist temple and the Vietnamese Catholic Church, from houses east. There were people on roofs and stuff still."
While the victims are gone, they’re not forgotten, forever etched in Biloxi history and the hearts and souls of those the storm left behind.
Thompson closes, "I just thought about how their lives impacted mine. They had faith and belief how we all went to church together. In this community, it’s just so sad how they left, but I knew God had a plan for them."