BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Thursday marked with the 8th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the storm that forever changed the face of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In downtown Biloxi, a memorial service was held to remember those who lost their lives that terrible day.
One by one, the names of the 52 Biloxians who perished in Katrina were read. Prayers were offered in their honor by Pastor Lindsey Robinson of St. Paul United Methodist Church.
"God, we pause to remember the victims, their families that were affected by Hurricane Katrina."
Those weren't the only ones. Bishop Roger Morin of the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi also offered words.
"We gather to remember a time of tragic loss and terrible sadness, but we also come together to offer praise and thanksgiving for the blessings of progress and renewal," Morin prayed.
First responders, elected officials, and ordinary citizens felt compelled to be here. One of them was Claudia Thompson.
"I had to pray and ask God to give us that hope to bring us back together, because Biloxi is all I know," Thompson said.
What Katrina took away, she also gave back, according to Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway.
"We know what we lost, but what did we find? I think it was an appreciation for life, for family, and for faith," the mayor told the crowd.
While everyone attending Thursday's memorial service at the town green in Biloxi had a personal connection, a personal memory of Katrina eight years ago, some had a much more personal connection than others.
One was Myrtle Stockstill. She lost her sister, Tonette Jackson to the storm.
"It's somewhat of a closure for me. It doesn't complete it, because I haven't found her. But it helps a little bit," Stockstill recalled.
Katrina also taught us all a lesson about dealing with future storms. That was the message from Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove.
"I don't want to have to deal with this again. If I get on and ask for somebody to leave their home and get out of here, there's a reason behind that."
Other Katrina memorial observances were held Thursday in Waveland and Pass Christian.