Devastation Tours Draw Praise And Criticism

The people taking the tour of what Hurricane Katrina did to Highway 90 homes and businesses say seeing is believing. They're on a one hour drive offered by King Limos of Gulfport.

"I think it's decent if somebody doesn't have a car. He doesn't charge that much, got a lot to see," Jody Thwing of New York says.

"I think it's a good idea. I mean, you can actually go on the tour and you can see things and you don't have to worry about driving and crashing into things yourself, you know. There's other people who stop and take pictures and if you're not driving, you have more time to look around," Wisconsin resident Jack King says.

That's why Hussein El Hamaki thinks giving the rides through Harrison and Hancock Counties is a good idea. It's $20 a person for one hour. A two hour tour is $35. But not everyone pays.

"I charge people only from Mississippi, from this area," says El Hamaki.

"So if they're from out of state, you don't charge them," Marcia Hill asked.

"No, it's not much. This is to cover my expenses. It's for the driver, expenses for gas, expense to maintain the cars," El Hamaki says.

Despite what he calls "good intentions," El Hamaki says he's heard criticism from those who think he's just trying to profit from people's misery. But El Hamaki says nobody's profiting from the tours.

"I'm not making any profit from this. I want to thank people from out of town who came here to see this and they take it back to their city and state and show the people what really happened here in Mississippi," he says.

El Hamaki says he hopes that will help clear up the widespread misconception that the hurricane hit only in New Orleans.