Beau Rivage Helped Block Storm Surge

Beau Rivage took quite a hit from Hurricane Katrina. But the casino resort may have softened the blow for other buildings in downtown Biloxi.

The high rise hotel proved to be a good neighbor during the storm.

"I think without the Beau Rivage, we'd have all been gone," said Randy Barras, who owns a salon just a block north of the casino.

He credits the nearby casino for saving his business. The 1904 building did lose its roof in Katrina, but Beau Rivage kept the storm surge at bay.

"I think the biggest impact was probably hit by it. So, I guess it took the biggest hit and then from there it just sort of washed the rest of it out and by the time it got to us, thank goodness it stopped," he said.

The storm surge that slammed into the casino barge was buffered by the hotel tower. A hurricane video making the rounds on the Internet , shows the wind and water which wrapped around Beau Rivage.

"It was just surreal the way it was coming in with the whipping winds," said City of Biloxi spokesman, Vincent Creel.

He had a bird's eye view from Biloxi City Hall and believes Beau Rivage may have provided a buffer.

"I'm no meteorologist or structural engineer. But anything between us and a hurricane is good. I'm sorry it was Beau Rivage. Obviously they did a good job in the construction of it. You know, it's like the Biloxi lighthouse, still standing," said Creel.

Certainly not every building in the Beau's shadow survived the storm. Several businesses across the street were destroyed. So did the high rise structure actually buffer or redirect the storm surge and save a portion of downtown from even greater damage?

WLOX's chief meteorologist says it certainly makes sense.

"Acting as a dam, knocking the wave action down. It's not only the water coming in, but the wave action and movement of debris," said meteorologist Mike Reader.

Casino neighbors are singing its praises.

"When a hurricane comes, with that being there, it's definitely going to save us," said Randy Barras.

Beau Rivage's casino barge sustained significant damage from the storm. The casino isn't expected to re-open until late next summer.