Gautier Leaders Proud Of City's Speedy Recovery

When Katrina swept through Gautier, she took with her 67 homes and left thousands more underwater. Four months later, city leaders say Gautier is bouncing back.

"I believe most of the roadside debris is picked up," Councilman-at-Large Jeff Wilkinson says.

"I think we're ahead of our sister cities on that," Gautier Mayor Pete Pope says. "We've had a few problems with the right-of-entry to get buildings demolished that are still standing, but I think that we'll work that out."

And though complaints about FEMA trailers have been common across South Mississippi, Mayor Pope says Gautier seems to be in good shape.

"People that needed trailers are getting them. I see a lot of trailers and I don't hear as many complaints," Pope adds.

Looking to the future, Councilman Wilkinson says there are now plans to expand City Hall.

"Instead of repairing the damaged end of the building, we're actually going to put a 20-foot addition on - space that's just desperately needed."

Now that most of the city's recovery efforts are in the past, Mayor Pope says the city should start to focus on its future. He says that's in ecotourism.

"This is a big business statewide. It brings in millions of dollars in our state. What we're going to have to do is publicize this, get our web page on and running. Get this out what we have to offer," Pope says.

Since the hurricane, sales tax revenue has increased by 80 percent.

"With the Lowes, with the Sears, with the Rex, there's just a lot of people in town spending a lot of money," Wilkinson says.

Money the city can use to fund the nature trail planned for city park, as well as other new projects.