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Biloxi Struggles to Rebound

29 August 2006

BILOXI, Mississippi -- As reported by Reuters: "The clean-up is mostly complete and business is brisk at the beachfront casinos, but a year after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, Biloxi is still struggling to get back on its feet.

"...A year of uncertainty over new building codes and the anaemic local economy have prompted long-time residents to considering leaving the city, especially since government funds to help rebuild houses have only trickled in.

"...Most of the pre-storm population of about 50,000 has returned, city officials aid, and the state government has recently begun distributing federal funds to rebuild homes.

"...Mississippi loosened casino restrictions in the aftermath of Katrina, allowing more land-based facilities to help replace revenues lost when the storm ravaged the giant floating gambling barges that once dotted the coast.

"Tax receipts from the casinos, which contributed more than a third of Biloxi's $50 million in annual revenues, have rebounded to pre-storm levels in recent weeks, and the city is hoping to more than double the number of gambling houses to 20 facilities in the next decade.

"More important are the 15,000 jobs the casinos generated before the storm. Nearly 10,000 of those jobs have returned, and the re-opening of the Beau Rivage scheduled for the August 29 anniversary of Katrina will add more than 1,000 to that..."

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