Katrina Shows Little Regard For Historic Cemetery

Katrina apparently had little regard for Biloxi history. That's evident from the significant storm damage in the Biloxi City Cemetery.

The section with the oldest graves was hardest hit by the hurricane.

Hurricane Katrina didn't care about all that history. Her wind and water tossed tombstones, rearranged markers and cracked open crypts.

John and Alice Dubaz and Fern O'Neal all have relatives buried there. They're shocked and saddened by how the storm scarred the sacred ground.

"It's terrific damage. It's something you never think would happen. But it does happen. And these tombstones, some of them I know weigh close to a half a ton. And they was just laid aside like they was paper. And it's amazing," said John Dubaz.

The southern section, also the most historic part of the cemetery, bore the brunt of the storm damage.

There was a brick wall that lined the southern section of the cemetery. Once Katrina's waves broke down that wall, the storm surge then toppled and tossed about dozens of granite monuments and tomb stones.

"That used to be the Reynoir tomb. And the surge just collapsed it. This is all it right here," said caretaker Mike McDonnell, as he showed the widespread damage.

Right after the storm, McDonnell recovered stones washed out the cemetery. He'll rely on his memory and maps for replacing the markers.

All the remains have been accounted for.

"Everything that come up in this cemetery is accounted for, yes sir," he said.

Work to restore the historic section will begin next week.

"We saved this section for last because this is where we're going to be for awhile with all the damage," he explained.

McDonnell says while a few of the smaller stones can be straightened by hand, most of the monuments will require the use of heavy equipment.