State Lawmakers Get First Glimpse Of Katrina's Destruction

A tour guide pointed out the bus window and said "The Grand barge was right up here. They've demolished it and removed it".

Every sight along the tour drew more and more words of disbelief.

"I've seen scores and miles of destruction. It's far beyond my wildest dream or imagination," said Sen. David Jordan of Greenwood.

"It was very painful to see the damage and the destruction," said Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Brookhaven.

The scenery was just too heartbreaking for Senator Hyde-Smith. She used to live in Biloxi and has a strong bond with South Mississippi.

"It's just hard to see everything. You remember what it was once and going down through that area and it just hurts to see the destruction and this beloved Gulf Coast," said Sen. Hyde-Smith.

Senator Tommy Gollott believes it will take at least $100 billion to rebuild South Mississippi. State lawmakers have already allowed on-shore gaming and passed other legislation to help the Coast recover from Katrina. If the governor calls for another special session, local lawmakers hope the tour will motivate their colleagues to push for more money for South Mississippi.

"I think they will have a lot more compassion to my people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast once they get down here and they see all the devastation that has happened," said Sen. Tommy Gollott.

After walking through the debris-filled neighborhoods, and capturing the images on camera, many lawmakers pledged to support South Mississippi.

"My compassion goes out to the people of the Coast and I'll do whatever I can, even though I'm from the Delta, to help those that have suffered so much loss," said Sen. Jordan.

"It's just unbelievable devastation. I just think we have a lot of responsibility here to the Gulf Coast to pick up the pieces," said Sen. Hyde-Smith.

The Department of Marine Resources also played a big role in organizing the tour because the agency wanted lawmakers to see the destruction to the fisheries, wetlands and the environment.