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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.

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The bad news is that hundreds of businesses were destroyed and probably will never reopen. The good news is that more than 100 enterprises are up and running in Bay St. Louis and Waveland, and many of them are doing a booming business.

Officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency spent two days canvassing businesses throughout Hancock County in late October and concluded that 800 businesses were either damaged or destroyed, but 300 were up and running and another 142 had plans to reopen. The county has a total of about 1,400 businesses including government offices, according to local tax records.

Among the busiest spots in the county is Hubbard's Waveland Hardware, which opened within two weeks after Katrina, handing products over a board at the front door and rounding prices to the nearest dollar. Today the 51-year-old family-owned business is thriving, one of the few signs of commerce in the devastated area south of Highway 90.


The hardware store is advertising washing machines and dryers, two appliances very commonly destroyed in houses flooded with salt water during hurricane Katrina.  (John Brecher / MSNBC.com)

The store, which had 41 inches of water in the storm, is clean and fully stocked with everything from shiny new rakes and hand tools to mailboxes, insulation and hot-water heaters. A constant stream of pickup trucks rolls in and out of the parking lot, and customers are lined up along the sales counter. Pipes, pumps and paint are in strong demand, said co-owner David Hubbard, who said sales are more than four times the usual level.

In Waveland, a total of 80 businesses were open and 20 had plans to open, compared with 261 that were listed as damaged or destroyed. Businesses listed as destroyed include the Circle K, Railroad Bar & Grill, Dempsey Steak & Seafood, Dixie Signs and Hair Junction Family Salon.

Wal-Mart, as noted in a previous dispatch (link), is open in an unique tent format. Warren Auto, Arc Electrical and Rite Aid also are listed among operating businesses.

In Bay St. Louis, 78 businesses were open and another 110 had plans to open, although 400 businesses were either damaged or destroyed, according to the survey, which was done at the request of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce.

Among the Bay St. Louis businesses that are doing a brisk trade: Los Tres Amigos, a 56-year-old family-owned Mexican restaurant that reopened about three weeks ago for lunch and dinner (cash only).

Also open for business, according to the survey: Party Tents, Magic Mirror, some bank branches, many insurance agencies and Edmond Fahey Funeral Home. Among the businesses listed as destroyed are Lee's Pawn Shop, Zeugin & Son Appliance Service, Cafe Reef and First Choice Carpet Cleaning.

Chamber of Commerce officials, who discussed the survey Tuesday at their first meeting since the storm, said they were concerned that both the area's grocery stores, the Winn-Dixie and Sav-A-Center, suffered heavy damage and have not announced any plans to reopen.

A Web site has been established through the state chamber of commerce for all enterprises in the coastal region that want to report they are open for business.

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Hello - I work for Allen Associates, a general contractor in Santa Barbara, Calif. Working with our local Habitat for Humanity, businesses and residents, we recently built a 960 sq. ft. home for a family in Bay St. Louis, Miss. Last week, the house was placed in pieces in a 53' truck and shipped to Bay St. Louis. It arrived last Friday and is currently being put together on the family's lot - where they lost their home during Hurricane Katrina. This project received the first building permit and is the first home to be rebuilt in the area. This home was and is being built almost entirely by volunteers (both here in SB and in Bay St. Louis) with donations of building materials and money from the residents of the Santa Barbara community. Our website (below) has a link to the project with a rendering of the house (a Creole design)and photos of the house under construction. My boss, Ian Cronshaw, is currently in Bay St. Louis overseeing the construction of the home.

As a Hubbard Hardware customer and someone who lives in the neighborhood I'd like to thank Richard and David Hubbard for being up and running. Truthfully they were up and running from the day after the storm giving away water logged merchandise to anybody that needed something at no charge. I can personally testify to this because I witnessed it because my family was one of five that Richard Hubbard took in and allowed to live at his house "Richard's Commune" for over a month after the storm. Richard would walk back and forth to the store forty times per day as people came to the house looking for this item or that item and then, as I said before, just give it to them and say "well, it's damaged, I couldn't sell it". The Hubbard Family is testament to what the "good life" in Bay/Waveland is all about!!

So glad to hear some good news for the business owners there, at least some. For those that lost most if not everything and will not rebuild, we wish them the best of luck in all of their future endeavors, whatever they me be and wherever they may go. God bless one and all and be safe.

The Hancock Chamber has managed a business assistance center for area businesses since September 21st. We have had the wonderful support of so many from throughout the country to assist our businesses in getting re-started---the MS Development Authority has provided our businesses with so much, including a Bridge Loan Program--0% interest loans of up to $25,000 for up to 180 days---SBA Diaster Loan Officers have processed more than 450 loan applications---and volunteer business counselors from the MS Small Business Development Center have been here in full force to help complete the applications and provide advice. The WIN Job Center is on site to help businesses and job seekers. The Arts, the Citizens in Action, the MS Bar and more are all here under one roof, thanks to Coast Electric Power Association. And, MSNBC is here with their professional and capable team to keep the spotlight on the hardest hit area of the Gulf States from this 100 year storm. Each day, I have the unique opportunity to witness the strength, determination, and passion of our people; and the many angels who have come to help us rise from the ruins. I often end my day reflecting, amid tragedy, about the many blessings God has bestowed upon us. Today, as we headed northeast from Bay St. Louis to return to our loaned home in Diamondhead, my eight year old twin daughters and I marveled at the beautiful sunset shining in bright hues of purple, orange and pink. And, we delighted in the grandeur of the beautiful full moon, sparkling. It was our gift, today. Thanks, y'all.

Great to hear the Hubbards have helped others and are in business. I lived on Lafitte and it is good to hear some good news.

When the news shares all the bad, it is refreshing to hear the good. Thank goodness for the honest, personal, caring, family-run businesses such as Hubbard's Hardware. When they could have been licking their own wounds and closing their doors after Katrina, they were putting their own hardships aside to help out their neighbors in need -- and giving things to anyone who needed them. Well done!

I just returned from Waveland after serving the people of Hancock County at the clothing tent at the K-Mart parking lot, commonly known as 'Camp Katrina'. I came with a group from Heartland Community Church (Rockford, IL) to join forces with Christian Life Church (Orange Beach, AL), Willowcreek Community Church(McHenry, IL) and many others. It was an honor and priviledge to serve and meet the great people of the Waveland/BSL area. I was amazed by your upbeat attitudes and spirit following all that you have been through. It was a blessing for me to see the church working together in unity of purpose, heart and mission. It is my belief that the church, when it's working as it was intended to, is the 'hope of the world' and most definitely has been a light of hope to your area. My life will forever be marked by my time spent with you.

Thank you for the opportunity to love and serve you in Christ's name.

"Jesus is the answer for the world today, above Him there's no other, Jesus is the way"

Be Gods!!

There were some pictures in the Sun Herald today about the simple things that make you smile now. The picture of the little dog watching the man count out the money made me laugh. Wonder if he was thinking if there would be any left over for a new doggie toy or treats? I have a friend who had her pet grooming business in the Bay destroyed when the storm hit. She has no house left either so has moved to another state. What she says breaks her heart is that she doesn't know what has happened to the pets and their people. She made me think, you not only lose your business but all the people you became close to in the process of giving them a service they needed.

Habitat International is coming to the area on Saturday and Sunday to film the Mississippi rebuilding recruiting video and if there is anyway possible to let them meet the Santa Barbara family and show the progress on that Habitat Home

The Hubbards are the real story of recovery in Hancock County - while the media devoted their attention to the death and destruction, the Hubbard family was quietly taking care of the citizens of Waveland, Bay St. Louis and the surrounding areas who needed everything from plumbing supplies to ice and a friendly face and kind word to just get through the next hour. They deserve a great deal of credit for being there for us. I told Richard Hubbard that Hubbard's was the "real story" in Hancock County and that they should have been interviewed - his response? "Oh, I don't have time for that, I'm way too busy." I am fortunate enough to be one of the Hubbards neighbors and consider myself truly blessed.

The Gulf coast took a pretty good licking with the hurricanes. But I was staitoned at the Seabee base when it first opened up and am familiar with the people that live down there the civilian and the military . They may be down but trust me they will be back as good as ever if not better

As volunteers who spent nearly a month living in "Richard's commune", we too can attest to the kindness and generosity of Mr. Richard, co-owner of Hubbard's Waveland Hardware In addition to the parade of people who had lost their homes that lived in his house for as long as they needed, Richard Hubbard took in people who had come to volunteer with the relief effort. He felt that helping us in our efforts was his way of contributing to the broader community while getting his own business re-opened. We will forever marvel at his generosity under such circumstances. We are thrilled to see that the hardware is coming along well and we hope that others read these postings and are inspired to be as selfless as the Hubbards during this holiday season.

Kudos to Tish Williams and the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce for their work. I volunteered with her group for some time and I can say that Tish rolled up her sleeves and got down to the business of bringing back business in a way that could teach a thing or two to others who have leadership responsbility in this recovery effort.

i am glad to hear that businesses are opening back up. I know of a black z71 truck pulling a trailer that left north louisiana this morning heading to bay st louis to pick up a broke down van full of food that was picked up down there. These people do not live on the coast, they are from north La. These folks said they were coming to get the van an more food. These people have good paying jobs. They have family that lives there who picks up the food an gives it to them. This is not right. Please stop the abuse of the food program an let these businesses make a living

St. Clare Catholic School in Santa Clara, CA took up "Tip Donations" at their Annual Pasta Dinner last Friday night for St. Clare School in Waveland, Mississippi. Our St. Clare Parish collection at Mass on Thanksgiving Day will also be sent to St. Clare School in Waveland. We are so pleased that Waveland is doing well - we are keeping them in our prayers.

I am glad to hear that recovery has started and moving forward. I grew up in the great state of Mississippi and have been deeply saddened by all that had occured. I felt for so long that people were only focused on what happened in the great city of New Orleans. Now people are really focused on what happened to my home state as well. Thanks to all of the volunteers and locals for all that they continue to do. Without them and their publicity, things would be worse. I know I will once again be proud to visit the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

I am from Stamford, CT. I worked on a house with Habit for Humanity a few years ago. It's a very rewarding experience. My husband and I recently went on an after boat crusie which was a fundraiser for Habit for Humanity. It's a wonderful organization along with the Red Cross. It's great to read that some business are able to pick up the pieces and reopen. I give those business owners alot of credit. I have been following alot of these Katrina stories very closely. I have been so deeply touched by it. My husband and I attended our local Red Cross meeting last. We heard some very rewarding and interesting stories. A lot of children took up varios donations while playing their string instruments. I hope we will continue to here more success stories. Katrina will be something that I will never forget. It effects each and one us in various ways through out the whole United States. Happy Thanksgiving to all of the Katrina victims!!!!
Sincerely, Cheryl

I am so thankful for all the help we have received from everyone from near and so far away. God bless each one of you for the time and love you have given us. We could not have made it without you wonderful,caring,loving people who gave up so much for us who had lost so much....THANK YOU and GOD BLESS YOU ALL............

I live in Florida where we have hurricanes just about every year and just recently we were hit with Wilma. Although we suffered from that storm my family and I could not help but think what Katrina did to those of you in Mississippi and Louisiana. Somehow we felt blessed by our hard times instead of feeling bad. We have never stopped thinking about you all who suffered and we will continue to donate whatever we can so that you and your families can start to live the way you should again. God Bless all of you and remember we will not forget what happened to you.

Thank you so much to David Hubbard and his family. Pat and Candy Murphy is my Uncle and Aunt. When I arrived in town 5 days after the storm, I knew where to find family, they were taken in by the Hubbards. I have shopped at this store off and on my entire life and David never changes or ages. He always remembers who you are and asks "How's the family doing?" David and his brother and family are true local HERO'S in this little community. I remember all he wanted to do after the storm was to clean up the store so he could open to help people out. He didn't sit around waiting for someone else to come do the work for him. There is no way I can say thank you enough to David and your family for taking care of Pat and Candy and the rest of the community in Waveland and Bay St. Louis area. I hope to see you all real soon, we want to come back to help real soon.

Hubbard's was my neighborhood hardware and what joy it is to know they are alive and "kicking". For years, I felt that Richard and David Hubbard were my "personal" consultants and suppliers (and friends)for my home on Coleman Ave. But all their cistomers feel that way... so it doesn't surprise me that they have continued their unselfish and amazing service to the Waveland community. The new Wal-mart and Lumber 86 couldn't phase their business... and it's wonderful to know Katrina couldn't either!!! Here's to a place that will always be special to me, will see you guys in March when I get back!
Scotty Jonte

Exellent site, ept.

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