Diamondhead Community in Hancock County Still Trying to Cleanup After Katrina
by Bruce Smith and Keith Burton - Photos by Bruce W. Smith
While much of the media's attention since Katrina has been on the cities directly on the Coast, the Diamondhead community has been somewhat out of the spotlight. But this near-water community suffered as badly from Katrina as the beachfront towns.
The areas along the Coast's bays and bayous were also impacted by Katrina's storm surge. Homes that had never historically been flooded, even miles from the "beachfront" were wiped out too.
Diamondhead is perhaps the worse affected area. This community of upscale homes and shops is struggling to get back up. Many of its homes were badly damaged and many more completely destroyed.
This area also seems to be among the last to get power and utilities restored and debris from the hurricane still is in the streets and throughout the neighborhoods.
Many of the homes in Diamondhead are on canals and some are along the Diamondhead aircraft runway. They all received heavy damages.
Unlike cities, the Diamondhead community is a corporation with no mayor or city officials. There are services and amenities that the corporation maintains, but the damages are so severe that some believe the Diamondhead corporation may not recover. That doesn't mean that the community will disappear, but that changes will be needed to provide for those same services.
There are over 3,000 homes in Diamondhead and 450 condos. The homes south of I-10 suffered the worse damage, most of those homes were destroyed completely. The homes around the Diamondhead Marina, along with the marina were completed destroyed. The marina's main building remains (photo left) but only the shell.
A small row of shops at the I-10 Diamondhead interchange was severely damaged from Katrina.
The storm surge from Hurricane Katrina was high enough to float a huge fuel tank (right) onto Interstate 10, which divides the south portion of Diamondhead from it's northern section. The photo of the tank was taken the day after Katrina hit the Coast. Interstate 10 is considerably higher than most of the homes in Diamondhead.. Diamondhead residents were shocked over the damages they experience, especially considering the distance Diamondhead is from the Coast's beaches.
For weeks since Katrina, recovery crews have been searching throughout the area's bayous and rivers for sunken boats and victims. They have even reported that they had prevented some looters from stealing boats and yachts that had broken loose from their moorings and had become grounded.
Meanwhile, the residents are doing what they can to rebuild their lives and homes. Many in the Diamondhead community work at the Stennis Space Center or are retired.