BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - MGM Park was transformed into the main stage for a special Katrina anniversary service that focused on the resiliency and recovery of South Mississippi after such a destructive storm.
Leaders and locals said it's amazing how far the Coast has come in a decade.
Prayers and songs of praises echoed throughout the ball park as several leaders joined the community in Biloxi on Saturday. A totally different scene from 2005 when Hurricane Katrina gave the Coast a one-two punch. An ugly blow Governor Phil Bryant said is hard to explain.
"Our vocabulary has been unable to express our emotion in these deep challenging times," Bryant said.
The faces of folks at the event were filled with emotion, especially when school students from Biloxi read aloud the names of more than 170 Hurricane Katrina victims who died as result of the storm.
While this hour long service reflected on the tragedies of Katrina. It also focused the triumphs.
"The Gulf Coast was knocked down. You could have stayed there, but you simply chose to rise," said Bryant.
Former Governor Haley Barbour couldn't agree more. Barbour was pushed into the national spotlight to serve as the man in charge of leading the state from one of worst natural disaster in history.
Barbour told the crowd he's proud of the progress that's been made in 10 years.
"The population is greater than it was before the storm. The school population is more than it was before. The casino industry is still not quite back," Barbour said.
He also says South Mississippi owes a lot to the first responders and volunteers who spent weeks, months, even years making the area bigger and better. They are the real heroes.
"They were there to serve and to save and then later on to help us rebuild. Our hats off to you, and we will always be grateful to you," said Barbour.
During today's ceremony, there was a prayer for the repose of the souls lost to Katrina, along with prayers of thanks for first responders, volunteers and other heroes after the storm.