North Dakotans Share Pain, Advice to Katrina-Ravaged Biloxi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/19/05

North Dakotans Share Pain, Advice to Katrina-Ravaged Biloxi

Experience is the best teacher, especially when it comes to recovering from a natural disaster.

Many South Mississippi cities and communities are learning their way as they go through the rebuilding process.

But one coast city is getting an outpouring of support from a city that's survived a similar storm.

The council chambers of Biloxi City Hall looked more like a scene from the days of King Arthur Saturday morning--twelve men gathered in a roundtable discussion--but this group had gathered for a tale of two cities, cities separated by more than a thousand miles, but bound by a common thread.

"In 1997, we were rocked with a disaster that evacuated the town of Grand Forks, a town of 50,000, completely flooded. We never could have imagined anything as bad. Now we see that Biloxi and this area has been even harder. It really breaks our hearts," said North Dakota Congressman Earl Pomeroy.

The 1997 flood forced 90-percent of Grand Forks' population to evacuate.

While many people returned to rebuild soon after the flood, the city is still recovering nearly a decade later.

"Recovery is a long process. We were on the world's stage for a minute, and then everybody forgets about you, but you still have your day to day recovery," said Grand Forks Mayor Michael Brown.

During the meeting, the North Dakota delegation shared a list of lessons learned, sharing insight on things ranging from how to build affordable housing to ways to resurrect area businesses

"I think that you'll be back stronger than ever, even though now it seems hopeless, and I think the most important lesson is that there is a tomorrow, and you'll get better," Grand Forks Mayor Michael Brown said.

Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway says things are looking brighter already, thanks to the guidance of the city's new friends.

"We got some real good ideas of how to go about some of the things we're doing, we're doing the same things, but they gave us a little bit better insight because they've been there and done that," Mayor Holloway said.

The flood in Grand Forks caused nearly $1-billion dollars worth of damage.

By: Toni Miles

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