Bay St. Louis is booming five years after Katrina

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - By Michelle Lady - e-mail

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Bay St. Louis is one of the highest points on the entire Gulf of Mexico coastline, but its elevation didn't spare the city from Hurricane Katrina's devastation. Left homeless were 3200 families, all municipal buildings heavily damaged and unusable and 400 businesses were lost.

The Bay St. Louis Bridge crumbled and was left lying in the water leaving the city isolated from the east. But the storm didn't keep the city down. FEMA came in an allocated more than $87 million for rebuilding.

Bay St. Louis purchased the old Coast Electric building on Highway 90 to house the police and public works departments and the city administration. A new state of the art, storm ready fire station opened just last week. In the five years since Katrina, the city has spent $69 million in FEMA money.

All historic buildings used prior to the storm are in the process or have been restored for other uses. The old city hall will be the home of the Historic Preservation Commission and a city museum. City Hall on Court Street will be used by the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce. The Historic Depot is under renovation, but is now home to the Hancock County Tourism Bureau and Visitor's Center.

The city of 11,500 in 2005 now has a population of 9,000. While city leaders say there is still more to be accomplished, they are happy Bay St. Louis is 80 percent rebuilt.

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