The Biloxi Lighthouse shines every night - on temporary power. |
"It is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Biloxi, and I get calls about it every day," said Bill Raymond, Biloxi's historical administrator.
"But we're like everybody else. We're waiting on the insurance claim to be settled so we can afford to fix it. Our estimate for repairs is $350,000. That does not include landscaping, just the structure itself and the electrical."
Katrina carried away some sand from the foundation and the surge likely gave it a slight push to the northeast, but engineers do not believe the 1848 cast-iron tower is in imminent danger. Pumping action from water brought down some of the tower's interior bricks.
"We just don't have money in treasury to repair it now," Raymond said. "It's not in danger but I worry about it for lack of a real door if another storm comes before we get it repaired. I'm hoping the repairs can come in the next month or so but that's a guess."
In December temporary power was provided so the light would shine as it has since it was shipped by schooner from Baltimore, first lighted by oils, then by electricity.
Raymond said the Biloxi Bay Chamber of Commerce has formed a Light the Lighthouse Committee to help until insurance money comes in and to assist with such projects as a teacher's resource guide on the tower's historic role.
When constructed, the tower that has now survived 18 hurricanes did not straddle the center of a busy highway but was on the waterfront.