Mayor: Bay St. Louis better prepared for hurricane season

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 27, 2013 at 6:09 PM

Updated Monday, May 27 at 6:21 PM

Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
Email: bcapo@wwltv.com | Twitter: @billcapo

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. -- The National Weather Service forecast of up to 20 named storms this hurricane season was sobering for the Bay St. Louis mayor.

"You always pause when you see those kinds of numbers predicted, because you know it is going to be a rough season for somebody, and hopefully it is not us," said Mayor Les Fillingame. "But you know we're so much better prepared now."

Eight years ago, Bay St. Louis was smashed by Hurricane Katrina's strongest blows, but the bayside town rebuilt.

"We're dedicated to this place, you know," said Tony Trapani, owner of Trapani's Eatery on the Bay. "We're never going to leave this place, no matter what happens. You know it was completely destroyed, and everybody is tired of talking about it."

"I moved here about three weeks after Katrina, because my house in Kenner was completely flooded from water, and we had no levee breaks," said former Kenner Resident Jerry Cruse, who now lives in Bay St. Louis.

Bay St. Louis did $160 million in repairs, from roads to drainage.

"They're very resilient here, and they keep coming back," Cruse said.

"We've rebuilt the entire community since Katrina," Fillingame said.

The new seawall, now up to 21-feet high, was tested last summer by Hurricane Isaac.

"The 12-14 foot surge that we experienced for 30 hours during Isaac here in Bay St. Louis would have been catastrophic 20 years ago," said Fillingame. "Our story for Isaac was the damage that didn't happen."

"That's a major wall right there," said Trapani. "It's going to protect this land."

The mayor remembers that 80 people from this area died in Hurricane Katrina, so even with all the improvements here, if another major storm targets this area hits summer, he says his first priority is making sure no lives are lost.

"Go to safe harbor somewhere. Come back after the storm's over," Fillingame said.

 

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