Rebuilding pace quickens as Katrina anniversary nears

When it comes to recovery from Hurricane Katrina, the past year has been one of construction milestones for South Mississippi.

Cities along the Coast spent the first two years after the storm cleaning up at a cost of $1 billion, with some repairs done at the same time. But since the third anniversary of Katrina, construction projects reached a new level, with many governments starting work on new buildings and infrastructure.

Saturday is the four-year anniversary of the storm, and the landscape of the Coast has changed greatly since then. Over the last year, residents have seen fewer empty lots as they ride along the Coast from Jackson County to Hancock County. Shopping centers are being built, such as Promenade in D'Iberville, which will open in October. New restaurants also have opened, and the clusters of FEMA trailers set up after Katrina are no more.

In fact, one of the year's most notable achievements included the ending of FEMA's temporary housing program in May. FEMA figures show that in August of 2008 there were 4,400 occupied temporary housing units. As of last week, that number was 455, an 89.6 percent decrease.

Other major projects completed since August of last year include the two high schools in Harrison County, both of which can be used as shelters during a hurricane, elementary schools in Hancock County, the Waveland Civic Center and the Hancock County Courthouse.

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