HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - By Michelle Lady - e-mail
HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - August 29, 2005 category 3 Hurricane Katrina made landfall near Hancock County. Damage stretched more than 150 miles along the coast and more than 75 miles inland leaving behind the worst damage in Hancock County.
Fifty-six lives were lost, thousands of homes destroyed and only one 1200 square foot county office building was deemed usable. The storm instantly erased more than half the county's tax base cutting its population of 46,902 by nearly a quarter. But the devastation didn't stop the county from getting to work.
FEMA allocated more than $519 million for cleanup and rebuilding. Five years later, the county remains a work in progress.
Construction is underway on a public safety complex which will include a new jail and justice court. Bids have been accepted on a Health and Human Services facility. Several storm shelters are going up throughout the county and property has recently been purchased for a new EOC building.
Last year, major renovations were completed on the County Courthouse. Buccaneer State Park, which brought in a million visitors a year pre-Katrina, opened part of its campground in May.
Other big attractions like a $5 million sports complex and Stennis Space Center's Infinity should help increase the county's tourism draw. Leaders say progress is made each day and the future is bright for Hancock County.