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Governor: Worse than Camille

Thousands of homes destroyed; Katrina's death toll likely to rise




Entergy Corporation

BILOXI, Mississippi (CNN) -- Hurricane Katrina has inflicted more damage to Mississippi's beach towns than Hurricane Camille did, and its death toll is likely to be higher, the state's governor said Tuesday.

Camille killed 143 people when it struck the state's coastal counties in 1969 and left a total of 256 dead after it swept inland.

"There are structures after structures that survived Camille with minor damage that are not there any more," said Gov. Haley Barbour, after touring the affected areas of his state by helicopter.

In the small town of Bay St. Louis, search and rescue crews marked with red paint homes known to contain bodies, because there weren't enough refrigerated trucks to remove the corpses, said CNN's Gary Tuchman. (See video of the rubble Katrina stacked on Bay St. Louis -- 3:08 )

Jason Green, of the Harrison County Coroner's Office, said funeral homes in Gulfport had received 26 bodies since the storm passed. Residents who have returned to their homes were calling to report bodies or were bringing them to funeral homes, he said.

And in Biloxi, emergency crews fear 30 people died in an apartment complex on the beach when the building collapsed in the storm.

Katrina drove a 25-foot wall of water over the beaches of southern Mississippi and into the towns along U.S. Highway 90 Monday, after it came ashore at Buras, Louisiana, as a Category 4 hurricane. (View the video of waves claiming Mississippi shores -- 3:11)

Katrina destroyed "every one" of the casinos that raked in a half-million dollars per day to state coffers, Barbour said. And he said there was "enormous damage" to Belvoir, the Biloxi home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, which survived Camille with little damage.

"There were 10- and 20-block areas where there was nothing -- not one home standing," he said.

Many of the state's waterfront casinos are along U.S. Highway 90, which was underwater Tuesday.

Eastbound lanes of Interstate 10 between Gulfport and Biloxi were also impassable because of debris dumped on the road by the storm. (Watch the video of boats stacked in the forests -- 3:02)

President Bush declared a major disaster across the state on Monday, making federal money available for recovery efforts.

Gulfport, known as a major terminal for banana imports, was strewn with Dole and Chiquita trucks. A nearby Coast Guard station was destroyed, a firefighter said.

Part of the city's sea wall was washed away, and nearly every downtown building had extensive damage to its first level.

Meanwhile, looting was reported to be a problem there and in Biloxi, officials said.

In Long Beach, west of Gulfport, Alderman Richard Notter said it could take the town years to rebuild.

"I've been from one end of the city to the other and looked down towards the beach, and it is absolutely devastated," Notter said. "There is no building standing within the first three blocks. I haven't seen one structure that's livable."

In Pascagoula, defense contractor Northrop Grumman's shipyard -- the state's largest employer with 12,000 workers -- reported serious flooding. A smaller shipyard in Gulfport is believed to have suffered even more extensive damage, company spokesman Brian Cullin said.

Sen. Lott's home destroyed

Among the thousands of homes destroyed was Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott's 154-year-old oceanfront residence in Pascagoula, according to a spokeswoman from his office. A friend had boarded it up ahead of the hurricane's arrival Monday, said spokeswoman Susan Irby.

"He's been told there's nothing left," she said. "They plan to go out to see if they can recover any valuables."

The senator's wife, Tricia, told him the news Monday night. She rode out the storm in their house in Jackson.

Lott thanked Bush for his disaster declaration for Mississippi, saying, "I urge you to come to Mississippi. Your visit would be very good for the morale of Mississippians who are hurting right now."


As of Monday, at least 12,200 people were in shelters across the southern portion of the state, said MEMA public information officer Mick Bullock. He noted that number was expected to rise as more people are rescued from their flooded homes.

He said officials were advising residents to boil water, because of damage to water lines and treatment plants.

Biloxi resident Harriet Leckich told CNN "nothing was recognizable" when she returned to her home. (Watch the video of Leckich discovering 'everything is gone' -- 1:37)

Another Biloxi resident, Harvey Jackson, sobbed that he had "nothing" after watching his wife slip away from him. He told CNN affiliate WKRG-TV that they had clung together at the top of their home, when it split in half. He could not find her body. (Watch the video report of a husband who lost all he had -- 1:07)

Power facilities flooded

State emergency management officials said 80 percent of the state's residents had no power.

Mississippi Power, part of the Southern Company, reported 196,000 customers without power, and Entergy and the Electric Power Association said 659,000 households have no power, Bullock said

Entergy Vice President Curt Hebert Jr. told CNN's "American Morning" that not only were power lines down, but the utility's facilities were flooded.

Some 4,000 Entergy crews were preparing to head to the devastated areas, Hebert said, but he asked that utilities in other states send reinforcements.

He advised residents to be patient, because it would be some time before everything was up and running again.

The Air Force has been asked to move five search-and-rescue helicopters and their teams to Mississippi, military officials announced.

National Guard troops in Mississippi have been activated and hundreds are headed to the southern part of the state, Bullock said.

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley said he would send 800 National Guard troops to Mississippi to help with debris removal and traffic control there.

Search and rescue teams from Virginia, Maryland, as well as California and Louisiana were also on the way to Mississippi to look for victims. Many crew members have traveled overseas to aid in earthquake disasters and to Florida for previous hurricanes.

CNN's Joe Johns, Kathleen Koch, Gary Tuchman and Miles O'Brien contributed to this report.

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