BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Hurricane Katrina left lasting scars on the Hurricane Camille Memorial in Biloxi at the site of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer.
Now the Biloxi Fire Department, with the help of a local businessman, is working to get the memorial in shape for the upcoming 50th anniversary of the storm.
The church reached out to the fire department, who in turn reached out to Lodging and Leisure Investments for help in returning the memorial to its best condition.
Restoring the tile mosaic is the greatest challenge in the project.
“Katrina did some damage to this fountain, you can’t just go put them (tiles) back on there, and a lot of them are missing,” said Cono Caranna of Lodging and Leisure Investments. “So we’re going to play into that with how we bring it back to life and just have part of the story that the damage that’s here is the damage from another hurricane.”
Caranna credited Biloxi firefighter Justin Lopez with taking on the bulk of the work. Lopez, other firefighters and even Lopez’s parents have helped work on the memorial. That work includes power washing and cleaning each name on the memorial’s walls.
That work is greatly appreciated by the Rev. Chris Robinson, priest in charge at Church of the Redeemer. His mother and her family were were in Pass Christian during Camille, so he’s heard the stories.
“We wanted to make sure we restored the memorial to its best condition," Robinson said. "Make sure that it is an appropriate monument and a place of remembrance so that folks who want to gather here can and can come by and remember what was lost and remember those who fought for what we kept.”
Lopez described the partnership between the church, the fire department and Caranna as a “perfect team”
Caranna has supported the Tunnels To Towers run that Lopez organizes each year in memory of first responders killed on 9/11.
The church property has been for sale since Hurricane Katrina, and as development comes closer to the property, church officials said they are looking for a potential new home for the memorial. Because of that reason also, Caranna said they had to find the right balance between restoring the memorial properly without spending too much money.
The 50th anniversary of Hurricane Camille will be remembered with a memorial service at the Camille Memorial at 5 p.m. on Saturday Aug. 17. Afterward there will be a program at the Seafood & Maritime Industry Museum at 6 p.m.