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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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WAVELAND, Miss. – Space No. 154 is near the end of the dusty campground road out in Buccaneer State Park, but inside the 30-foot Keystone trailer that sits there a new beginning is under way for Shane and Ivy Jordan.

Surrounded by ice chests, kids’ bikes and lawn chairs, the travel trailer is now home for Katrina survivors Shane, 26, Ivy, 24, up to five kids at times and a finger-nipping Jack Russell terrier named Ellie.

Welcome to FEMA-ville by the beach, one of many such encampments that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has set up across the region ravaged by the Aug. 29 hurricane. In Hancock County, 3,456 trailers were occupied as of Monday, according to the county’s Emergency Operations Center.

With maybe 300 square feet, the trailer is a far cry from the two-bedroom, two-bath, 1,000-square-foot Bay St. Louis apartment the Jordans called home until Katrina tore half the roof off and sent water four feet up the walls of the second-story residence.

But the lack of space and privacy are really the only negative issues the couple will mention, well aware that other families are still waiting for trailers and grateful that Shane’s job as a rookie Bay St. Louis police officer jumped them to the head of the line.

This 30-foot travel trailer is home to Shane Jordan, his wife, Ivy, five kids and a dog.  Click "Play" below the image to hear Shane and Ivy talk about their new lifestyle. (Jim Seida / MSNBC.com)

Shane and Ivy weren’t high school sweethearts. Had they been, they likely would have been voted “cutest couple.” Thin, tall and pretty, blue-eyed Ivy’s dark hair falls to the middle of her back. Clean-cut, compact and quiet, Shane looks every bit the U.S. Army Ranger that he was until June, serving in Iraq in the 509th Airborne, 1st Battalion, until June.

When it comes to the trailer, “the biggest difficulty is just storage,” Shane says.

Sleeping by day

Well, says Ivy, that and when “he tries to sleep during the day because he works at night …” Shane finishes her sentence: “The whole trailer rocks if anybody moves.”

But “the kids love it,” Ivy says. The couple have their own two sons, 6-month-old Taylor and 5-year-old Ryan, and they take care of their nephew Joel, 11. In addition, Shane’s kids from a previous marriage, Terrell, 6, and Katelyn, 8, are frequent members of the household.

“I don’t mind it,” Shane says. After all, “I just got back from Iraq.” Adds Ivy: “I don’t mind it either, as long as we can find somewhere to put our stuff.”

A lot of the overflow is sitting outside for now, some of it on a deck that Shane just finished building with salvaged fencing and pallets. “This will keep us out of the dirt.”

Inside, an eight-foot-square bedroom at the front of the trailer houses a queen-sized bed. The main living area, which features a pop-out section is probably 12 feet square and contains a couch, dinette and small but complete kitchen. A tiny hall leads to the bathroom with its mini shower and sink. A third 6-by-8-foot room in the back houses four bunks for the kids.

“I don’t cook very often in there because it’s so small you turn the stove on and it heats the place right up,” Ivy says. “So we use the microwave a lot and my husband cooks on the grill a lot. We eat a lot of Pop Tarts, cereal and sandwiches.”

Trailer is theirs for 18 months

The trailer is not much, but it’s theirs, at least for the next 18 months -- if they need it that long. It’s a good base from which to plot the future.

For Ivy, that’s a return to college to finish work on the associate degree in business that was interrupted with just five weeks to go by Katrina. For Shane, it’s settling into the rhythm of 12-hour shifts on the police force.

For the family, it’s a chance “instead of renting to buy, which we were trying to do anyway,” Shane says, maybe even build their own place. “Hopefully, some good will come out of it.”

Their financial situation is actually improving because there’s no rent to pay on the trailer, no utility bills, “all that stuff that was hard to handle because he’s a police officer just starting out, making $9 an hour,” Ivy says.

And “we’re young,” she says as Shane’s favorite country singer, Brad Paisley, launches into a tune in the background. “It’s easy for us to start over. We’ve got plenty of time.”

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They say it's not bad...now. I'll be interested to hear what they have to say after living in those cramped quarters for a couple of years or when FEMA says they've had long enough to get their lives back together and takes the trailer away leaving them homeless again. That's what FEMA has done to the victims of Hurricane Isabel and other storms.

Good for Ivy & Shane. They've got their act together and will make it. I'm pleased with their atttitude and it makes my own troubles - aches and pains - of 72 years seem trivial.

Hi Tom! Well, I hope that we're not going to stay in this trailer for a couple of years. This is a boost for us to help get on our feet again. Nothing more. We will find other housing and rebuild like everyone else here. It's what we have to do to continue on with life and raise our family. I'm not saying it's not cramped. We just have to make due. I'd much rather be living in this trailer than a tent with no AC or electric. It will be trying at times, but we just take it day by day.

Ivy and Shane have taken a bad situation caused by mother nature, and are rebuilding their lives. I do not envy their situation. Their attitude is remarkable. I wish them a speedy recovery in getting back to a normal life

What an amazing family. They see the silver lining and appear not to dwell on the negatives of the past. Yes the space is small, and they have a large family (5 kids!) but they have love. Good luck to Shane & Ivy, stay strong and love your family, that will get you through everything.

These kids will be fine. My hat's off to them that they're making do with what's available to them while setting goals and moving forward with their life together, instead of sitting somewhere almost uninhabitable where they refuse to leave, while crying about how nobody is helping them. These kids are models for what can be accomplished by those who are willing to help themselves.

In our area, I see hundreds of mobile homes, not camper trailers sitting waiting to go to the costal region. It looks like a family that large could qualify for something bigger than a 30 ft trailer. God Bless these folks.

My husband Jason served with Shane in the Army at Fort Polk, LA. I became very close to Ivy while we were stationed there. We love them dearly. When we heard that they had become homeless because of the hurricane we were devistated. Ivy called me a couple of weeks ago and let me know they were ok. I was so relieved that they were ok. They are two of the strongest people we know and they will get through this hard time. They have love, and that is all that really matters. We will always be there for them!!!

Our thanks need to go to people like Shane and Ivy. People who are willing to serve their country in the military and then come home and serve as a policeman making only $9.00 an hour. I really hope your plans to make the best of your situation and be able to have a home will all come to pass.

I am proud of you Shane and Ivy, for your determination, strength and positive attitude. Wish I could have been there to help you, but you are doing fine on your own. I love you, keep your chin up, Mom, in Australia

My family and I are now in our FEMA trailer. I can relate to the Jordan's. My two girls, 4 and 6 yrs old, think its great living in this trailer because everything is just their size. We all are just taking it one day at a time and staying close to our faith and family. Hang in there, all.

Do they have to pay for this trailer they get to live in for the next 18 months or do we the taxpaying public? Were they paying for an apartment before?

Mike Stuckey, I served with Shane in Iraq we were very close. If you mention the name "Gonzo" you'll see what Im talking about. Please send me contact information to help my fallen comrade. I wont be able to sleep until I do something to help a brother I fought with in Iraq.

years later they will look back on yhis as one of the
happy times of their lives..

TO Patty: Really lady WHO Cares--- these people NOW Need ANY Help they can get-- i'm Sure in the long run the taxpayers WILL Have to help in this tragedy- BUT Think if it had been YOU- Would u then be worried if the Taxpayers had to HELP? Geeze!!
I Wish u all the BEST Ivy and Shane,,,,,,MAY GOD BLESS You all..A Mom in Arkansas!!!

Too bad you don't have access to some of those Army tents to help enlarge your territory, Shane! Ugh - $9 an hour to keep the peace - every time I hear of a low wages paid to police officers I get really, really grumpy. It just doesn't seem right to me!!! But I can tell that the Jordans will be able to pull through; they've got great determination. I, a taxpayer, don't mind paying for people like the Jordans to have temporary housing while they rebuild their lives. Now, if we could only make sure all the money spent for rebuilding was spent wisely.....

Too bad you don't have access to some of those Army tents to help enlarge your territory, Shane! Ugh - $9 an hour to keep the peace - every time I hear of a low wages paid to police officers I get really, really grumpy. It just doesn't seem right to me!!! But I can tell that the Jordans will be able to pull through; they've got great determination. I, a taxpayer, don't mind paying for people like the Jordans to have temporary housing while they rebuild their lives. Now, if we could only make sure all the money spent for rebuilding was spent wisely.....

I feel the same way, why shouldnt law abiding taxpaying citizens look to the government for help? At least the taxpayers money is going to help people who really need it.And in their own country.

To Patty: It sounds like these two are responsible, hardworking kids, just trying to get by. They're not 'living on welfare.' As a police officer, Shane pays taxes, and if Ivy's ever worked, than so has she. That's why we have a social services net in this country--for times like that. I've paid taxes all my working life, and if something as devastating as that hurricane ever happened to me and my family, you'd better believe I'd expect government help. Good luck Shane and Ivy! God Bless!

To Patty: I, for one, am proud to be able to pay my taxes so that people like Shane and Ivy can be helped in their time of need. I just returned from my first relief trip to Waveland, where I was a volunteer in a 19 man demo crew helping two families there to gut their homes for rebuilding. What the good people of Waveland have experienced in almost beyond belief, but I never heard one of the locals there complain about anything during the time I was there. I plan to return asap to do it all over again, but in the mean time I am working here at home to be able to pay more of those much needed taxes, so that our government may function to serve the needs of it's citizens. Patty, if you don't like the way things are done here in the good old USA, then perhaps you should find another country to call home.

Patty - Maybe you just don't realize what has happened here to our homes! I think you should get on a plane, fly down, see for yourself, and then you will have a TOTALLY different outlook on the situation down here. Your comments are totally INSENSITIVE to everyone affected by this horrible disaster that we are unfortunately having to live through. We are all hard working tax payers just like most of the people in the United States. I cannot believe that some people can be so cold-hearted to think that we don't deserve help.

Ivy and Shane - Best of luck!

Patty should be thinking how blessed she is. This experience could happen to anyone.It takes courage for Ivy and Shane to face the challenge they have been given.


Ivy and Shane, of course you deserve help (after all you've done for us in the Army and as a Police Officer). If you've gotten any help from the Red Cross or the Salvation Army, you've gotten my help (through my charitable donations). It is important to remember that you can't be compassionate with other people's money. This difference is as simple as the difference between me reaching into my pocket for money to help you and me reaching into your pocket to help a victim of hurricane Wilma. The former is charity - the latter is not.

I hope that you do not have to live in that trailer with your 5 children for very long. It will wear on your family and nerves!!! God will provide for you
KEEP the Faith.

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