Post-Katrina, Miss. buildings face second test with Isaac

hurricane isaac, eric newton, beau rivage
Eric Newton, who directs security at the Beau Rivage casino resort along the Mississippi coast, shows CBS News' Mark Strassman flood guards installed on the building in preparation for Hurricane Isaac.
CBS News

(CBS News) GULFPORT, Miss. - The eye of Hurricane Katrina passed through Mississippi seven years ago, damaging up to 90 percent of the homes along the coast.

The same area now faces Isaac's northeast quadrant -- a hurricane's most powerful side, where the winds power the storm surge.

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Also potentially worrisome: The state's construction standards are largely unchanged since Katrina.

A 2005 surveillance video shows 24 feet of Katrina's storm surge as it charged into the Beau Rivage casino in Biloxi.

Rebuilding the devastated resort cost $550 million. Custom-built flood gates of aluminum now act as a dam at every entrance.

Eric Newton directs security at the 1,700-room resort, which closed Tuesday for the first time since Katrina. But the new floodgates have never been tested by a hurricane.

The building codes of 18 hurricane-prone states, from Texas to Maine, were rated last month by the Insurance Institute for Building and Home Safety.

Florida scored 95 out of 100. Louisiana scored 73. Alabama scored 18. Mississippi scored the lowest: a four.

Despite Katrina's devastation here, the group's report says Mississippi has "no statewide building code, no mandatory enforcement, and no requirements for building inspectors."

All of that could be put to the test again here in the next 24 hours.

  • Mark Strassmann
    Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.