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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.

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BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. – Wandering Hurricane Katrina’s killing fields, you can’t help but notice an odd phenomenon: In the chaotic confetti of wood and brick and shingle that covers virtually every inch of some neighborhoods are small clearings that display relics pulled from the wreckage as if they have been carefully set up for a garage sale.

Deputy Police Chief Dave Stepro, who lost his own home near the beach in Waveland, explained the collections, which appear to be mostly plates and dishes.

"There’s an etiquette about finding treasures when you’re searching," he said. If the object isn’t yours –- highly likely even on your own property, given that Katrina’s surging waters carried many items far from their original resting places -- but you think it might have any value to its owner, "You just put it on your slab," all that is left of many homes.

"Hopefully," he said, "no one (other than the original owner) ... will come by and pick it up."

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17 COMMENTS

This hurricane etiquette should be continued; it's much better than the "finders, keepers" attitude. If it belongs to someone else, don't take it for yourself. That's a good lesson wherever you are.
God bless these folks.

Waveland MS is my hometown, I grew up there. I have been three times since the storm. It is Hell on earth. But this is true and you see these arrangements of items all over. Taking someone elses property at a time like this is shamelss, and these people do not do it. These are some good folks down there, please help us/them if you can.

I went to Bay St. Louis two weeks after Katrina hit and destroyed my family's weekend home. As devastating as it was to see, we did find some small things that did belong to us, and, yes, we found others that did not belong to us, and I left them in plain view on a trailer for the rightful owner to find and recover. Nothing of great value was found, but it is strange what new value these things have taken on after the storm. Keep on looking and keep the faith. Little by litte, Bay St. Louis will come back better than ever!

They're everywhere! As you walk through the destruction, where only huge old oak trees survived, multi colored shreds of cloth hanging in their branches... these little memorials resemble shrines. Whether collected and assembled by owners or helpers,they remind us these piles of debris are indicative of the lives this storm tore apart...bits and pieces that continue to survive. It brings both smiles and tears.

Just when you have given up on humankind being honest you stumble onto little stories like this that renew my hope in our fellow brothers and sisters.
God bless you all!

How uniquely American. The kindness of heart that penetrates even the worst that could happen. You could imagine a mom saying,"Thats not your's honey, set it over there." I am very sorry about your tragic losses.

to all our friends down south that have been effected by the hurricanes know their are people all over the world raising money and collecting things to help you all out our hearts sure go out to you all in this very sad and tragic time for our country.may god bless you all and help in your speedy recovery to a normal life our thoughts and prayers are with ya folks.

i spent 12 years on the beaches and bayoos before moving to tennessee. i watch and read about your struggle to regain any sort of normalcy now with a heavy heart and a lump in my throat. i have given money to the relief effort, but it seems such a small thing. millions of americans like me are at a loss as to how to help. so we just pray for you and with you.

It is encouraging to hear such stories as is found in Bay St Louis. It helps to restore ones faith in mankind, that not all are selfish and self-centered in a society that breeds such thoughts. One can only hope that if and whenever we are placed in such situations that we (I) too will respond accordingly.

It is wierd. My long time: long-distance friend from Washington went to go visit her father in Louisiana and thought it would be the best time of her life. Ending up, she was trapped in a car and drowned while the flood rains came pouring in the roof and the windows.I pray for all the families who lost loved ones and God Bless You All!

This is much better than in New Orleans where even the police take anything they can get their hands on.

These tragic losses just make you see how short abd precious life can be.I think we all need to stop and pray and if I had it my way we all would. I am very sorry for all the losses of everyones loved ones and i CONTINUE praying for those.

I think this is an interesting article, but I take execption to the fool who would use the expression "Hurricane Kristina's 'killing field'".

After all, the book and movie "The Killing Fields" was abour Cambodia and Pol Pot who killed over 3 million Cabodians.

Just to get a catchy phase "killing fields" is kind of ludicrous to name a natural disaster 'just to be cute'.

I recently returned from a volunteer relief trip to Waveland, where I helped gut two familie's homes that had been flooded up to the peaks of their roofs down to the wall studs for rebuilding, those two homes being located approximately two miles inland on a little higher ground than those closer to the shore. I just had to see what had happened nearer the coast, and was literally stunned by the totality of the destruction. Everywhere I looked were small reflections of people's lives, hopes, and dreams depicted by otherwise ordinary household items scattered randomly. I almost felt like I was trespassing (which, in fact, I was) by standing in someone's yard or on the concrete slab of what was once someone's beautiful home. Words cannot describe how I felt. I did take something home with me, however, as a reminder of the experience so that I may hope to better remember the trip in my later years, and so that I may better tell the tale of what I saw there. I took over four hundred digital photos. I will never forget the rusted air pistol, the vintage Marlin rifle, or even the nice little green vase that I found among the wreckage - because I will always have the photos of those items. Out of respect, those and many other similar items were left exactly as I found them. I certainly hope that other outsiders like myself will have that same level of respect for what little the people of this region have left in the way of material posessions, because only the small things are left for them to possibly salvage. Nothing else is left.

With all the stories of looting and rioting that followed the hurricanes, I'm thankful to hear that one by one quiet citizens are doing their best to respect the lives and property of their friends, neighbors and total strangers. We knew the south would rise again. There's nothing that can keep these passionate people down for long. Keep fighting... you have our prayers.

WOULD ALL THESE RELATE TO A "BROKEN BONE"?THE THE WAY THE GOLD IS REFINED, AND SO ON?? ? ONCE MY BOY BROKE HIS ARM AND THE DR. SAID TO ME:""WHERE IT BROKE, IT WILL ONLY BECOME STRONGER"" PLEASE, KNOW THAT WE ALL CARE, AND FOR THE ONES WHO WOULD LIKE TO HELP A LOT MORE THAN WE HAVE BEEN ABLE, STILL KNOW THAT OUR PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU ALL AND SO IS OUR LOVE.

I thank all of you for helping us in our time of need. My fiance and I and his four children lost
everything. The Grand Casino Biloxi Barge is sitting
on top of our house. We found a shoebox of items from
the surrounding area of our home. We lived in the
hallway of the fire department for over a week sleeping next to a copier machine. Thank God a mattress was donated to us. Many people from our local Biloxi area, North Carolina, New York, Illinois
and so many other states adopted us as a family. A couple from North Carolina literally gave the clothes "off their backs" for me and my fiance Steve.
They had small suitcases for their week trip to help
with "relief efforts". She opened up her suitcase and
handed me socks, a pair of shorts, two T-shirts and
believe or not "clean" underwear. I know this sounds
funny...but I tell you this, tears came to my eyes and I've never had to be put in a situation where I had someone offer from the kindness of their heart,
underwear. WOW!! I truly felt blessed. Even after losing everything, and I do mean everything..God is
good! I am a native Gulf Coastian. I grew up in Pascagoula, lived in Ocean Springs for 11 years, then moved to Biloxi almost 2 years ago. The day Katrina hit, I was supposed to start my new job. I was very excited. However, Katrina destroyed the entire building. Gone! My fiance helped to save 19 civilians lives at the Back Bay Firestation. He is
a Captain of the Biloxi Firedepartment. This is sixteen years for him. President Bush quoted him twice in his Address to the Nation speeches. Captain Steve Scott of the Biloxi Firedepartment. I'm so proud of him. He risked his life to find me and his four children. We had lost all communication around 7:15 a.m. August 29th. At 1:30 a.m. the 30th, he trekked 30 miles north in the "still darkness" to find us. He didn't know for sure where we were staying. With the help of a Gulfport Police Officer he knocked on the door of a home he couldn't be sure
was the home that we were staying. I heard a voice and walked from my bed to the door and there he was...his big beautiful blue eyes were staring back at me. Oh My God...We both bursted into tears and held each other like never before. He was so nervous and scared. He thought we were dead. And we couldn't help but think the worst also. I vowed that moment that this man would be in my life forever. September 24th he asked me to marry him. I said yes. September 25th a car hit me with 3 of the children in the car.
I was sent to the emergency room. They thought my neck was fractured. WHOA! What more could happen right? We will be married November 5th, 2006. We are all fine and getting our lives back. A long road we have, but we will make it. I guess with all of this being said...I simply wanted to say, even after losing everything and going through what we and so many others went through, I never shed a tear for our loss. Material "things" can be replaced,(photos not so replaceable), but the one thing that made me cry was the generosity of so many people lending a helping hand in a time of need. We are just simple people living simple lives. Thank you so very much and God Bless all of you.

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