As anniversary approaches, restoration gets underway at memorial

Workers from Roy Anderson added the names of south Mississippi’s 169 Katrina victims to the wall of the Katrina memorial on the Town Green, the centerpiece of the refurbishing of memorial.

Contractors will be racing against time and weather to have the restoration in place for next Sunday, when the city holds its annual memorial service at the site. Among those scheduled to take part in the 8 a.m. ceremony: The Most Rev. Roger Morin, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi; U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker; Congressman Gene Taylor; Mayor A.J. Holloway, the Our Mother of Sorrows choir and others.

Dennis Cowart, an Ocean Springs architect who designed the memorial with the guidance of the TV program “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” in 2006, was glad to see work get underway. Anderson, incidentally, was also the original contractor for the project.

“I think we were nervous about the delay in getting started with the names,” he said, “but they kept telling us that it was going to go quick once they got started. We vetted the names very well. We did four good rounds and kept finding things. In fact, this morning, when getting ready to install the stencil, they noticed Kiln was misspelled. It has been wrong all along. When you have that many words, there’s always something.”

Cowart, said he was pleased with the progress.

“They sandblasted all of the names on the wall today,” he said. “They’ll begin making stucco and lighting repairs, and possibly repairs to the glass case, where UV rays have really taken a toll on the mementoes inside the glass. We may wait on that since it’s such a detail-oriented part of the memorial.”

See more online

Background on the memorial: To learn more about the Katrina memorial, and to see photographs from shortly after it was dedicated in February 2006, click here.

The wall: To see photos from today’s work, click here.

Names, names, names: To see the list of names of those who perished in Katrina, click here.