PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Many people paused on this Aug. 29 to remember Hurricane Katrina. It was 11 years ago today that killer storm came ashore, forever changing the landscape of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Pass Christian marked the occasion with a brief but poignant ceremony near the Katrina monument in War Memorial Park.
As a firefighter placed a wreath of flowers at the granite marker, Mayor Chipper McDermott remembered.
"I didn't think we'd ever see 11 years from that day. So, 11 years later, everything we have is better than we had before," said McDermott. "There just is not as much of it, and I don't know when that day will come but thankful for where we are."
Pass Christian has come a long way since that fateful day in 2005, when the storm wiped away most everything south of the railroad tracks.
New construction downtown is yet another sign of the ongoing progress in The Pass.
"It's great. It's wonderful. Thank God. Thank God. It's been wonderful. We've come a long way. We've still got a ways to go, but we've come a long way," said Patti Schruff.
"A lot of the houses are coming back. Got a lot of new construction coming in. Still have a lot of businesses that haven't come back or are in the process of coming back," said firefighter Shane Bass.
Bass vividly recalls riding out the storm in Fire Station One.
"Water got deep. Wind got rough," he recalled in a matter of fact manner.
He credits the volunteers who came to the rescue of not only the fire service, but this town.
"A lot of outside support that kept everybody going. If it wasn't for neighboring states, Alabama, Florida, and all the volunteers that came in, it would have been a lot worse than it was," said Bass.
A FEMA display just south of the park can give you an idea of a hurricane's high water. A blue tape marks the high water of Hurricane Camille at 22 and a half feet.
Much further up the pole is the mark for Hurricane Katrina, a circle of red tape marking 27.8 feet.
"It was a mess. I didn't think we'd ever get out of that," McDermott recalled.
Somehow, The Pass and the Mississippi Gulf Coast did manage to bounce back and build back.
"The people on the coast are tough. They are that," said McDermott. "Like the oak trees that grow close to the water."