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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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As Heather and I have returned to playing in New Orleans over the past few weeks, it's been interesting to have the conversations we've been having. Most of the clientele at the Bombay Club are locals New Orleanians, and the admiration that we've heard from them toward Mississippi and its efforts to rebuild has been staggering.

When we first started telling our friends in the Big Easy that we were going to move out of the city (about a year ago) the reactions we got were so negative. "You're kidding, right?" "Well, guess you won't be needing your shoes," "I wouldn't go there. ... They've got a slave mentality over there!" Since we had family here (and since Heather basically lived here every summer of her childhood) we weren't biased by these mistaken stereotypes of Mississippi.

However, the talk in New Orleans has changed dramatically since the storm. For one thing, people commiserate, and share their sympathies, since they know we took a worse storm hit. But more and more they express their admiration for the spirit of the people of Mississippi. They are impressed by the help that Mississippians are giving each other, their generosity in sharing relief supplies, and especially the governor's efforts at reconstruction and re-envisioning the Mississippi coast.

They are politely jealous of the apparent strength of leadership, the quickness of restoration of services and the hope for the future (near and far reaching) that they are seeing out of their unfairly maligned neighbors. It's interesting for us, too, since in many ways we are still tied to New Orleans. ... Our band performs there every week, just as we have for the past 3 years. We still have lots of friends, fans and fellow musicians in the Crescent City (though, fewer than before the storm) and we are still proud to be a part of New Orleans and its rebuilding. However, more and more we take greater and greater pride in telling our New Orleans friends "Yes, we live in
Mississippi!".

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5 COMMENTS

I'm glad you're getting a pat on the back for simply being who you are. I can imagine that New Orleans would be kinda jealous of MS' relief efforts!

Like Heather, I grew up in New Orleans, and spent every summer of my life in Waveland. I moved to the Waveland, full time about 28 years ago. Never regretted it! But I also heard all the negative comments, when I first decided to move. But as the years progressed, more and more of my family made the move. I keep telling them, "Now I'll have to move again!" But not me, I'm in Waveland to stay!

I never knew this about the city to the west, that their opinion of their next-door neighbors could be so low. It seems that, given our close proximity and the fact that the Gulf Coast has for many years served as a bedroom and vacation community for many New Orleanians, they at least would know better. How sad that the jewel which had been within their grasp all this time had to be destroyed before they could bring themselves to appreciate it.

I have spent nearly every weekend in Waveland/Bay St. Louis area helping my new friends, and fellow Mississippians. I have seen a spirit in the people down there that is special. I am proud to be called a Mississippian. This area is truley a great place to live.

I was sent to Bay Saint Louis for A reason from the Man Above,Ive been here 15 yeares plus. Really is a great place to Live and bring your family up. This is home and always will be until the Man above says different.Thanks for all the help from All around the WORLD.

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