Point Cadet Recovery Continues

BILOXI (WLOX) -- Point Cadet is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina.

That historic section of East Biloxi was among the areas hardest hit by the powerful storm. The neighborhood that was once the home of hard working seafood families and Slavic immigrants remains a community in transition.

Nearly three years after Katrina, the Point is a mix of Katrina cottages, overgrown slabs and scattered new construction. Its residents include neighbors determined to rebuild, folks lamenting high insurance rates and still others speculating about future casino development.

The only certainty seems to be: Point Cadet will never be what it was before.

Curtis Lopez is enjoying retirement after 31 years with the Biloxi Fire Department. The Point Cadet native plays with his grand daughter at a familiar place.

"Probably about 12 or 13-years-old. Used to play football right here with the neighborhood kids. And then, as my kids grew up, we played football out here," Lopez said, motioning toward the nearby grass and trees.

Such memories became even more significant after Katrina leveled the old neighborhood.

"No, it'll never be the same again. Too many people, they don't want to move back. And the property, the value on the property has gone out of sight right now," he said.

Lopez is among a fortunate few. Thanks in large part to the generosity of others, he was able to build a new home on Myrtle Street.

"We enjoy it down here. We miss some of the neighbors. My mom and dad and them had to move out of the neighborhood. They're living north of the bay now," he said.

You can see the sailboats from Katherine St. Amand's porch on Clairborne Street.

"You ain't lived unless you're by the water," said St. Amand.

She received the first Katrina cottage in Mississippi.

"I hope to build one day. Waiting to see what they want to do around here. Hate to build a house and have to pack up and leave again and they tear it down for something," she said.

That "something" would be future gaming development. There is much land speculation on the Point.

"I think it'll all be casinos and hotels myself," says St. Amand.

Despite the speculating there is also new home construction.

Along with pockets of prosperity in East Biloxi, there are also large areas of emptiness where slabs are overgrown. Even some streets, like Richmond Drive, seem to be taken over by weeds.

But along with the desolation, there is also hope in this community.

"I'm glad I'm here," said a smiling Curtis Lopez.