Former mayor reflects on progress

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - By Al Showers – bio | email

BAY ST LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Former Bay St. Louis Eddie Favre became a bit of a folk hero after Hurricane Katrina wiped out the town where he was born and raise. Mayor for 16 years when the storm hit, Favre was left with just the shirt on his back, flip flops and shorts.

For months, news stories that played around the world showed him dressed much the same way, walking through his devastated town in short pants even when the weather turned cold.

Favre vowed to stay in shorts until his town fully recovered. He even wore shorts with a tuxedo to the White House.

Eddie Favre likes the progress in the city five years later, but he still wearing those infamous shorts.

"It was almost like someone reached in and just ripped your heart out," said Favre.

Eddie Favre still gets choked up when he thinks about seeing what Katrina did to his city when the winds finally died down.

"It took use a few minutes just to realize not only were those buildings gone and the houses behind them on Phillips Street were gone but the houses out on the beach looking out toward the beach where the yacht club was, and the yacht club was gone," Favre said. "As we got close to the car bridge, we realized that it was totally wiped out."

As mayor, Favre knew he had to think about the future. But admits had doubts at first.

"Your initial feeling, your initial reaction is there's no way; there's no way we can ever get over this. Then you start believing a little bit."

While other cities began to plan their comebacks, Favre said thinking about building bigger and better seemed almost absurd in his city.

"Here it was, we still had mounds and mounds and mounds of debris. We couldn't even see over the debris, much less see down the road on what we wanted to see the city redevelop as. We just couldn't appreciate the efforts of the Charettes planning process at that time."

Five year's later, Favre is pleased with how far Bay St. Louis has come.

"We've come a long way. A tremendous amount of work and effort has been put in the recovery effort at this point, but we have a long way to go in terms of finishing all of the construction we've still got a lot of folks we need to bring back home."

So, with work still to be done, Eddie Favre is still wearing short pants everyday.

Since he's no longer mayor, the shorts are more of a personal statement now, than a public one.

But he said there will come a time, maybe when the first business returns to the Bay St. Louis beach front.

"When we get to that point whether it's Trapani's, Dock of the Bay, the Good Life, I think at that point we can say recovery is in full gear," Favre said.

Favre said he's now semi retired. He's now doing financial consulting work for other cities along the coast and spending time with his wife and grandchildren.

However he didn't rule out running for another political office in the future.

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