BILOXI, MISS. -- Hurricane Katrina swept George Lawrence's
neighborhood away, leaving nothing but a few stacks of bricks where rows of neat cottages once stood. Lawrence
wife moved into a FEMA trailer, and all their former neighbors are gone but one: the high-rise Isle of Capri casino looming just across Beach Boulevard.
Constructed on floating barges, Biloxi's casinos were seriously damaged, in some cases obliterated, by the storm.But just four months later, Isle of Capri was open for business.Buoyed by a post-Katrina change in state law that allows gambling establishments up to 800 feet inland, other casinos soon followed suit with bigger, glitzier versions of themselves.
> Meanwhile, Lawrence, a Biloxi city councilman, was still battling his insurance company.
By the time he
moved out of the trailer late last year into a house he
had bought elsewhere in town, eight casinos -- nearly all the pre-Katrina total -- were back, with more on the way.Lawrence's working-class east Biloxi
neighborhood is still an immense grassy plain broken only by a few pastel Katrina cottages.
"They have the resources, the insurance money," Lawrence
said of the casinos.