Beauvoir still here, despite what Katrina did six years ago

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Six years ago, Hurricane Katrina swept over the coast. After the storm passed, dozens of historic homes and structures had been swept away as well.

Beauvoir, the last home of confederate president Jefferson Davis, was still standing.

"I went down Beauvoir Road here and turned the corner and came to where the archway was, and my heart just sank," Quentin Kersten, Beauvoir's facilities manager, remembered. "I couldn't describe it."

Chief of Security Jay Peterson remembers that day well.

"It looked like a nuclear bomb went off," he said.

Peterson remembered thinking, "What's going to happen now? What's next after this?"

When officials who worked at Beauvoir drove up on the home the day after Katrina struck, they looked at it, and thought, 'This can never be re-done.'

"At that time, no," Kersten recalled.  "Everything was gone, the house looked terrible, it was just a nightmare."

For Beauvoir Director Richard Forte, Katrina was both the high point and low point of his career.

"Well, the expression that I use daily with tourists is it's like being in Hell and going to Heaven compared to what it looked like in the photographs I showed you and today," Forte said.  "It was one of the worst days of my life, just like thousands of people here on the Gulf Coast."

Forte said the now renovated 1852 home is built to last anything Mother Nature might throw at it.

"It's ten times stronger today than it was before Katrina with the re-bar and concrete that they used that you cannot see."

What can be seen and heard are the words of the tour guides that once again educate visitors about the history of the home and its connection to the past.

More than $16 million has been spent rebuilding Beauvoir, the presidential library, and other outlying cottages on the property.  Most of that money came from FEMA and MEMA, since Beauvoir is a recognized national landmark.

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