Miss America Tours Devastation In Long Beach - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/12/05

Miss America Tours Devastation In Long Beach

The reigning Miss America, Diedre Downs, from Birmingham, Alabama, saw the devastation first hand in Long Beach Monday. Mayor Billy Skellie took her on a tour of the beach front community which was devastated by Katrina.

"I want her to see that when she sees debris and stuff blown in the trees and hanging, that belonged to somebody. That was their home, that was their business, that was their lives. That's gone," Skellie said.

"It's just impossible to fathom the magnitude of this until you set foot down here," Downs said.

Downs wants to do something to help.

"I have the opportunity on a national level to speak about issues that are important. I can't think of an issue that's more important right now, that's more relevant to everybody in this country, than being able to help rebuild this part of the Gulf Coast."

Long Beach Lookout owner Rob Stinson knows how devastating Katrina was. His popular restaurant, once located in the city's harbor area, was blown away.

"I guess it's hard to believe that one day you're rolling along and business is fantastic... then the next day you could look and see absolutely nothing familiar," Stinson said.

Also joining the tour were some people looking to help rebuild long beach, like this developer from Florida.

"I feel that if I go ahead and continue to do what I'm doing here, it will give the heart back to the people, give them confidence that this is going to be built back like I know it will be," Jerry Wallace said.

One thing is certain, while Katrina has come and gone, the people of Long Beach aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

"We'll be back. As long as that ocean's out there, that Gulf, we're going to be here," Skellie said.

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