I had a hard time deciding what was my "best" panorama of 2005, and finally picked one that wasn't my best - but it was one of the most personal to me - the historic Tivoli Hotel in Biloxi, Mississippi, destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
Before moving to Minneapolis I worked at the Tivoli Hotel for several event filled years, and my children spent many a night there sleeping under my desk while I did RPG II programming on the hotel's IBM System 36.
It probably wasn't the best place to raise kids, but I was a single parent in my first programming job, and I always worked the late night shift to give me more time on the SYS/36. Between the hotel, motel, and nightclub there was never a dull moment. The stories those rooms held - the marriages that began and ended there, the drunks, the fights, the wild parties in the giant hot tub, the pimps and hookers, the mad bomber who shot himself in his room when the cops closed in, the boy who drowned in the pool on the Fourth of July, the arsonist... and of course, the hurricanes.
Although right on the coast, the hotel had withstood previous hurricanes, including the big one - Hurricane Camille in 1969, and it would have survived Katrina if it hadn’t been for the casino barges that broke free in the thirty foot tidal surge. One of the barges literally flattened the motel, killing eight people inside. A smaller barge repeatedly slammed into the hotel and knocked out part of the first four floors.
In the beginning the casinos were boats, and they would head for safer waters when hurricanes threatened. But over the years Mississippi stopped required that the gambling boats actually go somewhere, and the gambling boats evolved into huge casinos sitting on barges too large to be moved.
When I looked at the first NOAA aerials I could see the motel was destroyed, but the hotel seemed intact, so I was surprised when I drove up and saw the destruction. You can see why the aerials look OK - the fifth floor and roof are fine, so it looks great from directly overhead!
For another view of the Tivoli, see my 360 degree aerial panorama of Biloxi
which shows the Tivoli Hotel and the rubble of the motel, along with the barges that destroyed both.
I have dozens of other Hurricane Katrina panoramas
, including a series of thirty 360 degree aerial panoramas along the gulf coast from Biloxi to New Orleans that I shot for the Washington Post
To donate to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort contact:
Mississippi Hurricane Recovery Fund
American Red Cross