Even in its broken form, the Hurricane Camille Memorial in Biloxi serves as an eerie reminder of how the Coast's destiny was altered one year ago.|
Two of the marble tablets are shattered and the mosaic tile is chipped.
The reflecting pool is dried up and the waterfalls have stopped flowing over the names of loved ones lost 37 years ago.
But the bent flag pole remains and continues to serve as a symbol of hope and strength as South Mississippi moves forward.
Located on the property where the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer once stood, the fractured memorial overlooking the Gulf stills draws interest.
"After the storm when I would go down there, almost every day there were people who would come to look at the memorial," said Father Harold Roberts, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer. "It was a very moving thing to see after Katrina."
In 1999, Julia Guice, former civil defense director for Biloxi and a member of the Redeemer, felt there was a need to bring an awareness of the danger of hurricanes and to commemorate the 172 Camille victims.
It took two years of intense research to gather the correct list of names, dead and missing, from the 1969 storm and to conduct Coastwide fundraising efforts.
On Aug. 17, 2001, the $130,000 structure was dedicated on the parish property.
"We wanted it to go beyond just a church project...that was important," said Guice. "... Following Camille, they never had a list of people who died from the hurricane and many of the families were still grieving. We thought it would be a closure to family."
Although the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer plans to rebuild on Popp's Ferry Road, Father Roberts said they are committed to the Coast and will maintain the property.
The leaning frame of the church has been secured and will serve as an open-air chapel for any denomination, and repairs are being made to the DeMiller fellowship hall and Holy Guardian Angels pre-school.
Once contractors complete cost estimates for the memorial, rebuilding will begin.
"We feel the same thing that everyone on the Coast feels; we like normalcy," said Roberts. "...We realize how elusive that is, but any way we can contribute to that, we will."
- DANA SLEGER