Biloxi at nine months, post-Katrina

Mayor A.J. Holloway, who participated in two morning Memorial Day observances, says he’s encouraged by the positive signs he’s seeing on the nine-month mark after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.

Holloway made the observation after attending a morning Memorial Day observance at the U.S. National Cemetery in Biloxi, where a day before it took 15 minutes for hundreds of volunteers to place 16,000 small American flags at each gravesite in the west Biloxi cemetery.

“Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the start of the summer season,” Holloway said. “Our three operating casino resorts are continuing to do nearly three-quarters of the business that nine were doing before the storm. We have only about 5,500 of our pre-Katrina 20,000 hotel rooms back online and they’re booked solid. So that means we’re seeing a tremendous amount of daytripping from neighboring states, which is helping fuel our recovery.”

Holloway said he anticipates even greater business as Aug. 29, the first anniversary of the storm, draws near.

This week, the city will help welcome 10 east Biloxi families in homes that were restored by Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia, and Lt. Gen. Clark Griffith, chairman of the Reviving the Renaissance initiative is expected to present the formal recommendations of 200 volunteers who have been working on the project.

“We’re seeing tangible signs of the recovery every day,” Holloway said. “And I couldn’t be prouder of our citizens and the determination and resolve they’ve shown.”

The Biloxi resovery is scheduled to be highlighted tonight at 6 on WDSU-TV in New Orleans. Reporter Ed Reams paid a Memorial Day visit to the Katrina Memorial on the Biloxi Town Green to update the city’s progress.

And for those who missed the recent “Scarborough Country” program from Biloxi:

Gov. Haley Barbour also provides a nine-month perspective on the recovery effort in an eight-minute segment from the MSNBC program “Scarborough Country,” which was beamed live to a national audience from Biloxi on May 22. To see the segment, click here.