Bay St. Louis officials want to change Katrina monuments

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Bay St. Louis leaders want to change the look of two Katrina monuments at the I-10 and Highway 603 intersection.

The 15 by 28 foot concrete slabs mark Katrina's storm surge, but Mayor Les Fillingame is not happy about how it turned out.

"We really thought it was going to be a little more subtle with just a little bit more information about the fact that the marker was indicating the high water mark of the greatest flood of all time," Fillingame said.

But he is not suggesting the markers should go away but rather just be toned down.

"I think we can probably redesign the face of the markers and still memorialize the high water marker, but not make that the premier part. I would like to see a brass plate with just a little more information," Fillingame said.

Besides being a painful reminder, he says it has also been a hindrance to economic development

"I've heard the comment from real estate people that have had interested investors. And in our minds, it is the most developable intersection in all of Mississippi, and it is right for investments, for large investments," Fillingame said.

Former Congressman Gene Taylor who asked for the memorial said it was not meant to deter businesses but rather to remind residents about just how powerful storms can be.

"These trees still bare the scars, and they might as well pass an ordinance that says these trees can't have scars on them," Taylor said. "It happened and people need to know just how bad it can be, so no one dies needlessly. There were just too many people who died needlessly in Katrina."

The Mississippi Department of Transportation, who designed the plaques agrees.

Southern District Commissioner Wayne Brown said, "We felt that it was important, I did, to memorialize that height as a warning for people to evacuate. So I saw the positive sides of it."

But the commissioner said he would not stand in the way of the city taking action to change the look.

"As long as we have reasonable people speaking in a reasonable matter, we should have a good compromise," Brown said.

In order for a change to be made, the city will need to submit an application to MDOT who will turn it over to the Federal Highway Administration.

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