South MS yacht clubs come back from Katrina

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - By David Elliott – bio | email

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - While much still needs to be done along the road to recovery five years after Katrina, yacht clubs on the coast are back in business.

In 2005, the storm demolished South Mississippi's waterfront. Yacht clubs up and down the coast were destroyed.

"It was totally devastated. We were not different than anyone else. Everyone on the beach was devastated. It was horrible," said Ralph Pringle with the Biloxi Yacht Club.

Buddy Clark, Commodore of the Pass Christian Yacht Club, will never forget the day Katrina hit.

" As soon as the information started coming in, we knew that this was going to be gone," Clark said.

But five years after Katrina, all of the yacht clubs on the coast are back, rising from the ruin of the storm. Sailing and yacht clubs have been a big part of our coastal culture since the mid 19th century.

"Pass Christian is the second oldest yacht club in America. It was established in 1849," said David Taylor as he stood on the balcony of the new yacht club in the Pass.

From Hancock County to Jackson County, the new yacht clubs are symbols of South Mississippi's resilience. The clubs were among the first structures to come out of the ground following Katrina's violent assault on the coast.

Taylor said it was important to rebuild.

"The yacht club was where we went before the storm and so it was right that we get going again."

"The coast, in general, was so devastated, our group decided we wanted to do it right and build a better facility then we had in the past," said Pringle.

That was the challenge. Because of certain vulnerability on the waterfront, structures were built at a higher elevation. Modern hurricane resistant construction was employed. This is about more than concrete, wood and glass. It's a story about people and our coastal lifestyle.

"It represents an attitude in Biloxi and all along the coast," Pringle said. "Katrina is not going to knock us down. We are going to come back."

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.