Holloway to MML delegates: ‘Welcome home’

Here are Mayor A.J. Holloway’s welcoming remarks to the annual convention of the Mississippi Municipal League, delivered Tuesday, June 26, 2007, at the Coast Convention Center. The convention, one of the city’s longest running and largest, was forced to meet in Tunica last year because of damage from Hurricane Katrina.

Good morning, and welcome home, to Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

We’re proud and honored to have the Mississippi Municipal League back on the Gulf Coast, and we hope you love what we’ve done with the place.

You look around the streets today and it’s a little deceiving because we’ve hauled away 99 percent of the debris.

In fact, in Biloxi alone, we’ve hauled away more than 2.9 MILLION cubic yards of debris.

To give you an idea of how much debris that is, it’s enough to cover a football field and stand more than 138 stories high. That’s about four times taller than the Beau Rivage.

A few weeks after the storm, I met with a Senate delegation that was visiting Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi.

The delegation was led by our own Thad Cochran and included such senators as Ted Kennedy, Joe Lieberman, Christopher Dodd and Bill Frist.

Another one in the group was Sen. John Warner.

After lunch, Senator Warner pulled me aside and said, “Mayor Holloway, I’m an old man. I’ve been through three wars and five wives … but I’ve never seen anything this damn bad.”

The MML has been convening in Biloxi for more than 70 years now, making it the Coast’s longest-running convention, and one of the best-attended each year.

Everyday we can see signs of our recovery, whether it’s a new business opening, an old business re-opening, a family moving into a new or rebuilt home. The street lights and palm trees on Highway 90, and the list goes on and on.

We have record numbers of people at work in Biloxi and along the Gulf Coast.

Two casino resorts – the Hard Rock and Treasure Bay — are opening in a matter of days, and that means even more people are going back to work and more hotel rooms back online.

I know we have a ways to go, and I also know that we would not be where we are today were it not for the help of thousands of people from across this country and from across this state.

On behalf of the people of Biloxi, I want to sincerely thank all of you for your calls, your e-mails, your prayers and your offers of help and support.

Bless all of you, and, again, welcome back to Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.