SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - It has been called "the worst cultural disaster our nation has ever known." Hurricane Katrina wiped away hundreds of historic structures in Mississippi. On Friday, the Mississippi Heritage Trust talked about efforts to save our history 10 years after the monster storm.
Tullis-Toledano Manor, once a beautiful backdrop for weddings and family functions is now just a memory.
"Of course, it was heartbreaking, because these are things that defined your community, and they were all of a sudden lost," said Mississippi Heritage Trust Executive Director Lolly Barnes.
Barnes said 250 historic structures in Mississippi disappeared after Hurricane Katrina, and more than 5,000 were damaged. But, there's reason to celebrate.
"We're going to focus on those wonderful success stories. The ones where the buildings could have been lost, but people came together and fought very hard to save their history," said Barnes.
Barnes was the featured speaker at Friday's Katrina + 10 luncheon at the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum in Biloxi. She said caring volunteers, generous donations and an unprecedented $26 million federal grant poured in to help preserve these priceless properties.
She named places like St. Michael Catholic Church in East Biloxi.
"It's a phenomenal preservation victory," said Barnes.
There's also the Randolph School in Pass Christian, the Rectitude Masonic Lodge in Gulfport and the Charnley Norwood House in Ocean Springs.
"I'm very glad that we did. It's important. You have to cherish your history. I mean, we learn from our history," said Rachel Bell, of St. Martin.
Barnes said she'd like to see more buildings restored to their former glory, like the downtown Gulfport Library, the 33rd Avenue School in Gulfport and the old Fields House in Gautier.
"Let's make a difference and save these buildings that are still sitting there in the same condition they were 10 years ago," said Barnes.
She said with that united effort, those buildings can once again become treasured centerpieces of their communities.
You can see a collection of videos, pictures and personal stories about people who've come together to save historic places posted by the Mississippi Heritage Trust.