More than 1,000 people gathered Wednesday night around the new Hurricane Katrina Memorial by Biloxi's Town Green. They, along with the crew and volunteers from ABC's Extreme Makeover Home Edition, all took part in a candlelight vigil in memory of the people that died during the storm.
"I know right off hand about five people on my street who did not make it. So this is a good way to remember them," Derek Pride said.
The memorial is 12 feet high. That's the same height of the tidal surge that came through the Town Green on August 29th. It includes a memory case full of momentoes, donated by coast residents.
"Actually, I think it is a great thing. A footprint in history to come and say, 'Hey, we are going to remember the people we lost and prepare to not ever lose that many again,'" Tim Clements said.
Since the show came to South Mississippi almost a week ago, it has been Extreme Makeover Designer Preston Sharp who has talked to South Mississippians about the mementoes they have donated. It was clear by the emotion in his voice, he understands the heartache we all feel here.
"And because it was built by all of you, we are honored. This means so much to us, and we are honored by your presence," Sharp told the crowd.
As part of the ceremony, Sharp read the names of those who died in the storm. Names that will be etched into the monument, so that generations still to come will understand what happened here August 29th. As the names were read, undoubtedly, many of those gathered at the Town Green were thinking of loved ones now gone.
Coast resident Doug Disilvey certainly was.
"Never would I ever think that I would watch my daugther drown in front of me and not be able to do a damn thing."
DiSilvey lost four members of his family that day at their home in Gulf Hills. The memorial is there for them and all the others. There were a lot of tears shed at the Town Green Wednesday night. But it was also a night about renewal, and hope for a better tomorrow.
"It's a good night. A night of knowing we will grow back and we will never quit, becuase that is the coast," Clements said.
Representatives from the IP Hotel and Casino presented city officials with a check for $200,000 Wednesday night. Thursday, the Extreme Makeover team will donate washers and dryers to 29 families living in FEMA trailers in Biloxi. The dryers will be delivered by designer Paul DiMeo.