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Rising from Ruin is an on-going MSNBC.com special report chronicling two coastal Mississippi towns, Bay St. Louis and Waveland, as they rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

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This project is evolving. Our daily dispatches coverage has been retired. Click here to see what happened in the area between mid October and January 1, 2006.

Background on the towns and this project is available under the about tab above.

Click here for bios of the reporters and media producers who have worked on the series.

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BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. – Capitalism is rising steadily from Katrina’s ruins here in tents and trailers and parking lots. With ingenuity and can-do spirit as the guiding forces, business owners are doing what they can to serve customers and get some green back in their tills.

Some of the fixes are small.

There’s the Key West Motel on Highway 90 here in Bay St. Louis where managers Viren and Mita Patel are drying the laundry like it’s 1899: on old-fashioned clotheslines strung across the parking lot of the 44-room sherbet-green complex.

"The dryers are not working because of no gas," says a weary Mita. But hanging the sheets and towels outside, where they dry quickly in the blazing southern autumn sun, allows the Patels to have 24 rooms back online seven weeks after the hurricane flooded the motel’s first floor. Thankfully, the big commercial washers work, although there’s no hot water.

Some of the fixes are big.

At Wal-Mart in neighboring Waveland, a white vinyl tent covers a quarter-acre of the retail behemoth’s parking lot. "How do you like our Wal-Mart?" asks a cheerful greeter named Marilyn. "I love it! At least we’re back here and working."

Another employee explains that store managers have stocked the air-conditioned tent with items they thing would be most needed and wanted by hurricane-struck customers, as well as what customers have requested.

A tour of the pallet-stacked merchandise confirms that: batteries, microwaves, ice chests, first-aid kits, paper towels, cloth towels, pots and pans, underwear, diapers, Shop Vacs and bug sprayers line the aisles.

And food. Everything from 77-cent tube steaks to Bubba Burgers to eight-packs of boneless rib-eyes. Alas, there is no ice.

Leave that to Rite Aid, just down Highway 90, where the drugstore dispenses prescriptions from one single-wide trailer and general merchandise from another. This morning, they’re getting a visit from Bud man Jim Walshire, who says beer sales are booming in the area.

To get their beer money, shoppers can visit the Keesler Federal Credit Union, also on Highway 90 in Waveland, where the branch has been moved into a motor home.

Monti Electrical Supply had five feet of water inside the once-shiny customer-service areas of its Bay St. Louis outlet so the owners and employees cleaned up the warehouse as best they could. Then they pushed a sales counter into place, rolled up a side door and, last Monday, were back to moving Romex, conduit and other materials that electricians need to get other businesses and homes back in service.

With their store gutted, the setup is fine "right now, with nice weather," says Kathleen Monti. "But nice weather is getting ready to end and we’ve got November rain coming."

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Lord, take care of these people. Where they need to, help them to repent. Take special care of the cops & firemen. And where they are trying, bless their efforts.

I spent several weeks in Bay St. Louis a few years ago. I was really sad when I saw stories about what Katrina did. It's good to see that it is starting back. People can't choose what happens but they can choose their attitudes, and some people are making great choices.

Bless those who stayed. Forgive those who left. Living in Texas, I usually only have to deal with tornados. I pray for those that relief will find them, soon. God bless you and keep you. GLDockery, Azle, Texas(Northwest of Ft. Worth)

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