What is this?

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.

Map of Southeaster United States

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.

How you can help


Get the latest stories, journal entries and images via RSS subscription.

WAVELAND, Miss. — As we drive up rubble-lined Coleman Avenue from the beach, we find Brian Mollere holding court with friends. They are perched on coolers and lawn chairs on his property, next to the empty foundation where his house once stood, and they are agitated.

The talk of the day is a set of proposals for redeveloping the Bay St. Louis-Waveland area, including plans for a seaside park, streetcars and, importantly, adopting much stricter building codes in vulnerable seaside neighborhoods like this one. By adopting FEMA's revised flood elevations map, upon which flood insurance rates are based, many structures would need to be built three to eight feet higher than before Katrina to comply. Mollere would be forced to build at three feet higher.

"People can’t afford all this stuff,” says Mollere. “There was 36 years between big storms,” he says, referring to Hurricanes Camille and Katrina. “Why don’t they just let people rebuild and take their chances?”

The coastline proposals came from a group of community leaders, architects and other professionals chosen by the governor. After a series of public meetings around the six counties affected by Katrina, the Governor's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal will finalize its proposals, and they could become the law.

Some observers at Thursday's meeting at a community center say people are still too shell-shocked to think clearly about long-term development plans.

“People were like, ‘great, wonderful — a park along the beach, a streetcar - but I don’t even have a roof right now,” says Ellis Anderson, a community activist who attended the public meeting. “You still have to drive a half-hour to get a gallon of milk, you know?”

Until recommendations are written into law, however, building is on hold. Mollere said he asked to put up a temporary structure on his property. “I thought I’d put up a temporary business, see if I could make a go of it. They said ‘no.’”

MAIN PAGE NEXT POST Money laundering, one dollar at a time

Email this EMAIL THIS


If the people along the Gulf Coast have been paying insurance premiums and want to use that money to re-build then fine. But if federal insurance is paying for them to rebuild then there should be provisions made that will prevent them from rebuilding the same structurally un-sound houses that they were living in before. Why re-build only to be torn apart again? That kind of mentality went out with 25 cent a gallon gas.....a long time ago. I don't begrudge anyone wanting to live along the shoreline. It is beautiful, serene and something I did as a child. But, why do it in a way that puts you at risk of losing everything. We seem to be short on intelligent decision making these days.

I grew up in Bay St Louis and had a home there on the Beachfront (300 North Beach Blvd) which Katrina largely destroyed. On a work assignment in London, I was spared the immediate impact of the storm. The assignment now ended, my husband and I have to decide whether it's worth even thinking about rebuilding in a town that appears to have no vision for the long-term future and finds itself paralysed and unable to deal with even the immediate impact. There is no water, sewer or power at our home, so returning now isn't possible, and yet I no longer have a job to keep me in London. Having survived Hurricane Camille (I rode out the storm with my parents in their business/home at 138 Main Street, I'm stunned at the much greater devastation of Katrina and I mourn the loss of my town, my history, everything that was familar to me.

Planning is beginning over at Foundation Hope. Tricia, Jessica, and Mike have been involved with meetings about permanant houseing solutions, they started Foundation Hope as a POD in the Zappardos Mall, and are dedicated to seeing the area re-develop properly.
please go look at there website for more info

when rebuilding, think! stay away from the shore. hell, what's walking a block to the beach when you snow birds don't leave the house anyway.

Bay St. Louis and Waveland are not lost causes! There are people there who care very much about rebuilding in the right way - building strong, affordable, energy efficient housing, development with regard to the environment, offering free financial planning, and bringing viable businesses and jobs back into the area. Please understand that these are working towns, not beach resort towns. Many of the people that lived and worked there before the hurricane did so year-round; there were few "summer" homes. What lies before us is an overwhelming task, one that will be made easier with the support and encouragement of the entire nation. So, please, be constructive in your criticism - negativity only breeds discontent.

Long term planning information is available at www.mississippirebuilding.com. There are presentations available for download for Bay St. Louis and Waveland. Both of these towns have bright futures based on the love of people for their community: they will overcome the present enormous difficulties to make a better place.

I,ll second the first comment. Im agree most with the part about WHO is footing the bill

I'd say a lot has to do with the insurance companies not wanting to pay their insureds - knowing that the government will pick up the tab. Maybe we should line the shoreline of the gulf coast with insurance companies...

You realize that 99% of the people living on the Gulf Coast are unable to access online services and have no way to comment. Most don't even know of planned meetings because there is still little communication or transportation. What if you held a meeting and only those you wanted to show up actually attended???

As a hurricane Ivan survivor, I sympathize with Mr. Mollere's concerns. I initially felt the same way... However, my flood adjustor advised me: do not cancel the flood policy, and when the county changes the flood elevation I may then file for what they call ICC (increased cost of compliance) funds under the flood policy.

The ICC funds are in addition to your policy limits. No one will really tell you about this program, but it exists for every flood policy regardless of the company that issues the policy.

For example, my flood policy paid the maximum amount. When the county changed the elevation months after the hurricane, I applied for ICC and will get up to an additional $30,000 to demolish the old house and put the new house on pilings. I've received the first of three checks, so I'm not just whistlin' "dixie" here.

The quotes I received to put 2100 square feet of living space on pilings was between $23,000 and $33,000. So it is doable.

It is a long road to recovery. We've been at for over a year now. As our whole neighborhood would say at the end of each day... gathered around coolers and broken chairs... "Baby steps. One baby step at a time and we'll be back." It kept a neighborhood together. I wish the same for Mr. Mollere and his community.

I find it ironic that all of these stories are compelling human interest tales, with as many points of view as there are people to express them. However, the stories that have drawn by far, the most comments!)were about "Jehovah's Roofers", a Jehovah's Witness group helping "their own", the disposal of refrigerators, and town meetings! Religion, the environment and politics...the BIG 3...Those subjects bring out the "one-dimensional posters" every time!

To the Locals of Waveland, MS. I simply want to extend my love, blessings to each of you. I am from NC and 3 weeks after Hurricane Katrina arrived I volunteered my services through Convoy of Hope. My experience there was in the least, unforgettable. My heart is still there. Through the Organization, I along with 26 others extend our arms and hearts of service through distribution of needed items, feeding the hungry, loving the suffering, and simply listening. May God richly bless each of you in the days to come. Your are being thought of constantly and are NOT FORGOTTEN!

I have lived in Long Beach MS for 16 years which Hurricane Katrina also destroyed especially"south of the tracks" where my house is, damaged but still standing. I am originally from NC and I just wanted to say Thank you to all the volunteers who came down from my home state to help the people here. It makes me so proud. We are planning to retire in the near future and return to NC but we will forever miss Long Beach and the Gulf coast. It was and still is a special place to live even if you didn't live near the beach. Katrina proved you didn't have to live on the beach to be flooded or your home destroyed. Three houses on my street were up on stilts and there is nothing left of them.

It is very interesting to read the comments and thoughts of those not directly affected by Katrina! I have nothing but a slab left of a home we loved. We have driven over to see our "house" numerous times, and I am always overwhelmed with the sight of total destruction that is everywhere! We are planning to rebuild as soon as we can get the plans drawn up and the permits to build. How silly to say we should not rebuild because we are on the coast! Should San Francisco not have rebuilt because there maybe another fire? earthquake?....What about New York after 9/11?? Should be condem Maine and the northeast because they experienced the devestating floods?? Every part of our great country has it's own unique issues, and we have learned to deal with what nature offers, good and bad. Bystanders need to offer encouragement, not critism! Walk a mile in my shoes........

These comments show many people aren't being given a valid picture of what happened on the Gulf Coast. Pre-Katrina, homes were ALREADY required to be built 15 feet above sea level. The beach front homes accomplished this by building up on pilings, which helped them survive many hurricanes until the overwhelming force of this one. And when Katrina came, you did not have to be sitting on the beach to be flooded in Katrina--most of the housing was wiped out far inland.
When you have a freak 22 foot storm surge like you did hear, that means the depth of the water is deepened by that much. 20-30 foot waves are on TOP of that, meaning these houses sustained the equivalent of 50-foot waves for as much as five hours--plus tornado level winds, etc. Any new building regulations FEMA puts out are mere window dressing. You simply cannot build an affordable single-family residence that can sustain 50-foot waves plus Category 4 hurricane winds. The choice is either to declare these whole communities uninhabitable because of a hurricane of a level that has not happened here previously this century, OR recognize that fires, tornados, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc., happen periodically in communities throughout the U.S. and must be dealt with compassionately when they do arise. Leaving people to sit in the mud in tents and trailers while officials debate whether to raise the building height three to eight feet--a "remedy" which would have done nothing to prevent this disaster--is only going to impose an additional financial burden on these poor people who have already lost so much--all so some bureaucrat can say they've "done something."

Comments for this post have been closed.


Trackbacks are links to weblogs that reference this post. Like comments, trackbacks do no appear until approved by us. The trackback URL for this post is: http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b0aa69e200d8349d2a3a69e2

More Rising from Ruin

Story tips?