WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - With the 9th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina just two days away, Waveland residents are pausing to reflect on their loses and looking back on how far the Coast's hardest hit community has come. WLOX News found out there will be a lot to ponder.
The story of recovery in Waveland is a long one. Nine years after the deadly storm, residents who survived Katrina recall the early days.
"We've obviously come a long, long way from 30 foot debris fields covering everything to where we are today, but we still have a long way to go," said Former Mayor Tommy Longo.
Longo was at the helm of the city when Katrina leveled Waveland. He says the most noticeable difference nine years later is the population. More than 30 percent of Waveland residents never returned. Peggy Parker, who had dozens of neighbors before the storm, knows that better than anyone.
"My original neighbors, one, and she just comes like once a month from New Orleans," said Parker.
A lack of those part-time residents reminds the city a full recovery is years down the road.
"One of our biggest areas that haven't come back is our second homes. People from outside of this area building camps and second homes that were a huge part of our economy, and that hasn't happened," said Longo.
Longo said the high cost of insurance, the Biggert Waters Act and new elevation requirements are to blame.
The city's next big post Katrina milestone will come when construction on the new police and court department building is finished.
In Waveland, there will be a 9th anniversary observances at the ground zero museum beginning Thursday at 6 p.m. There will be a cookout for Hancock County first responders.