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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 Town Council meetings have become contentious affairs, reflecting a community overwhelmed by the destruction of Katrina, which has left hundreds of its residents living in trailers with no real idea when or how they might be able to rebuild.

At Wednesday’s standing-room-only session, a shouting match broke out almost from the outset over a seemingly innocuous proposal for a holiday parade in December. One resident objected loudly – wouldn’t shut up, in fact – arguing there is no time to be wasting time on parades when people are wondering where they are going to live.

But Mayor Tommy Longo sided with parade advocates, saying, “You’ve got to have something for the children and the people to look at other than debris, 24-7.” The proposal was approved conditionally by aldermen, who insisted that the police and fire chiefs would have to agree on a safe parade route.

Most of the meeting’s first two hours centered on the removal of debris, especially in the hard-hit area south of the railroad tracks and closest to the beach, where about 60 percent of the town’s 1,400 homes were located. Virtually all were demolished by the surging storm waters, leaving behind a massive debris pile that is slowly being diminished by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Two Corps officials patiently answered questions, many of them heated, for more than 30 minutes, explaining the complicated process required for federal contractors to enter privately owned land and remove manmade and natural debris. The bottom line: It will take many months.

Read related post: Removing the stuff of life

Each homeowner who wants the free service is required to sign a “right of entry” form, after which the property must be physically inspected by the town inspector, who now will be assisted by a more experienced team of 15 inspectors from Hancock County.

The Corps, which mostly has been working on public rights of way, will not even begin the cleanup of private property in Waveland until a substantial number of properties have been certified by the town. Once all the paperwork is completed, a Corps official estimated it would take two to three months to work across south Waveland, assuming the currently available labor pool doesn't dry up.

And that doesn't even address properties whose owners cannot be located or who decline to give permission for the corps to enter.

The road ahead for Waveland is daunting indeed, but Longo appears committed to the idea of rebuilding, and he shot down rumors that the entire south-of-tracks area would be bulldozed to make way for condos. “That is not going to happen,” he said.

He also denied rumors that federal officials were preparing to force people to move their temporary trailer homes away from the beachfront area, saying he had been personally assured that was not the case Wednesday in a meeting with an official of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

He did say there were concerns about people remaining in trailers in the most flood-prone zones beyond June 1, when the next hurricane season begins. “I hope we have people in something more solid than a travel trailer by next hurricane season,” he said.

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23 COMMENTS

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE with the NEED FOR A PARADE! What is wrong with people that want to claim a waste of time. A WASTE OF TIME is NOT taking some time out of the day to let people have some FUN! FUN-seems so many people have forgotten what that is. Yes, there is a great amount of work to be done, but come on some of you people, think of the children here if you don't want a parade; it brings UP community spirit and just gives a reprieve of all of the destruction that is everywhere there. Give the parade in the spirit of all that can be good within a community, and let the kids smile and laugh and just enjoy a moment in the day where they are not looking at all of the rubble. Like the Mayor said-But Mayor Tommy Longo sided with parade advocates, saying, “You’ve got to have something for the children and the people to look at other than debris, 24-7.”

As to the cleanup, some may complain that it will take too long. Well, the paperwork and all, this is for liability reasons. People do not want to go into another's home without permission for one, and another, they do not want to get accused of breakage of valuables or theft, and of course safety from hazards such as gas lines or unstable walls and/or roofs. Again though, the time it takes to get things cleaned up, hopefully they will NOT run out of available manpower/womanpower to help in this. There seem to be many able-bodied people at shelters, so perhaps they can be able to help. Maybe those who are in "honor camps" (being incarcerated) for minor crimes can go in to help the cleanup effort.

And about the parade again, let the children and the adults who want a little FUN have this moment. Yes that too takes planning and abit of time but the planning for a parade is a much needed emotional reprieve from the planning of cleaning! I say again, let there be a little fun for everyone's day. God bless one and all and Assalamu Alaikum (means: peace be upon you)

Mayor Longo is not committed to anything but doing nothing and leaving people out in the cold which he has been doing for most of the time since Katrina. People would not have to stay in trailers, tents, etc. if he would stop blocking building permits and follow present FEMA guidelines.

Hey Howard, Get a life and stop complaining. Put your money where your mouth is and do something yourself!

As one of a group of eight golfers who come down to Bay St.Louis every March and stay at Casino Magic we would like to know how the Bay City Bar and Grill located across from the AmTrack station Faird.There was a boy named BILLY who was our favorite waiter and his Mom waited on us at Casino Magic at breakfast. Hope thay are doing well. Thank You

I'm glad to hear most people are thinking of the kids! Here is an idea. At the Rainbow River State Park here in Florida, Santa arrives in a pontoon boat all lit up with Rudolph leading the way. When he gets to shore, the kids get to tell him their Christmas wishes. They have hot chocalate and stories, the kids love it. It's our version of Santa with Florida flare. Down near Bucanneer State Park seems "relatively clean" and the Morrell Foundation has built the iCare Village down there to serve as a Community Center. Maybe they could host a Santa Visit for the kids. Just a thought, Good Luck!

im not sure those on the coast...make your dision but val i dont think you should come to mississippi with insergert speaking...at this point stay in ca. have your own parade

Howard, why are you so negative? Why do you insist upon making personal attacks on Tommy Longo in a forum where he is not around to respond? Were you at the meeting? Did you speak up there? Do you honestly believe that Mayor Longo is doing things to negatively impact the people of Waveland? If so, why?

Give us some facts and something constructive. Personally, I'm tired of your rants. Where's the beef?

It is unbelievable, that with so many questions needing answers, that our Mayor would even waste time discussing a PARADE. The police, sheriff, and fire departments are overextended, and under-equipped, and trying desperately to serve and protect their community..and now the Mayor and Aldermen waste precious time discussing foolish things. If they want a parade, let the Civic Association plan and handle it....it's what has always been done. Why, oh why, are our leaders worrying about foolishness when there are so many critical things to be working on. Apparently his Maine vacation has distorted that which is crucial.
Remember people...it is now 38 degrees here...and there are people (including the elderly and CHILDREN and BABIES) living in TENTS. And they wast time discussing a PARADE???? I would genuinely like to see a recall of these foolish men who ran for office so they could be "Big Dogs", never for a moment suspecting that they would actually have to make life and death decisions. Do Waveland a favor..resign.

ı think everyone must be on this subject if we donot help who is in difficulty where is our huminity we should make there good and little enjoyable as we could

Sometimes when things are at their worse, we forget that the kids are hurt also. We also need to remember that they don't always understand and see things like adults do. I know that planning a parade takes time away from the physical healing but it also gives to the emotional healing. Community spirit is important and a little bit of fun will be a big boost to everyone's spirits. The physical healing will continue unfortunately not as quickly as it should.

OK, I get that there are children and elderly living in tents in 38-degree weather. Yes, that is very important and needs to be addressed soon. HOWEVER...how do you think those children feel right now about Christmas coming up? They know their homes are gone--one of the big questions on their minds must be "how will Santa know how to find little ol' me now that my house is gone? Will I be forgotten?" Not allowing the kids to have some kind of Christmas cheer is just inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on a sector of the population that deserves it the least. Let the kids have some fun--and a little reassurance that things will start to return to normal someday. Let the parades begin!

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PLEASE READ: We will only approve comments that are directly related to this blog post, use appropriate language and are not attacking the comments of others.
Don't people know how to read...or perhaps they simply lack an education and/or comprehension?

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE with the NEED FOR A PARADE! What is wrong with people that want to claim a waste of time. A WASTE OF TIME is NOT taking some time out of the day to let people have some FUN! FUN-seems so many people have forgotten what that is. Yes, there is a great amount of work to be done, but come on some of you people, think of the children here if you don't want a parade; it brings UP community spirit and just gives a reprieve of all of the destruction that is everywhere there. Give the parade in the spirit of all that can be good within a community, and let the kids smile and laugh and just enjoy a moment in the day where they are not looking at all of the rubble. Like the Mayor said-Mayor Tommy Longo sided with parade advocates, saying, “You’ve got to have something for the children and the people to look at other than debris, 24-7.”

As another poster said, "Sometimes when things are at their worse, we forget that the kids are hurt also. We also need to remember that they don't always understand and see things like adults do. I know that planning a parade takes time away from the physical healing but it also gives to the emotional healing. Community spirit is important and a little bit of fun will be a big boost to everyone's spirits. The physical healing will continue unfortunately not as quickly as it should."

So therefore, why was this personal attack on me by the individual who wrote that, well why was his comments/reply even permitted if the comment rules state?...and again here it is-SEND A COMMENT

PLEASE READ: We will only approve comments that are directly related to this blog post, use appropriate language and are not attacking the comments of others.

So, Mr. John Brecher or whomever is responsible for posting comments, I wish that this comment by andy,ms (Sent Nov 17, 2005 7:12:23 PM) to be removed. I find his words completely offensive. This is what he wrote, "im not sure those on the coast...make your dision but val i dont think you should come to mississippi with insergert speaking...at this point stay in ca. have your own parade."

He has no idea who I am and obviously he did not read everyone else's comments and if he did he felt for whatever reason to single me out for such negativity. Yes there is a freedom of speech, but again, the comments rules are being violated. By making this public request to have his comments removed I expect them to be so, or else further legal action may be necessary. Again, his words offended me. I will NOT stay in CA as I have my grandmother's friends that live there and I am planning on going there to help them with repairs when I am able, and by the way, they too want a parade!. So, I will NOT have my own parade. Again, it is for the children, and other reasons as noted by other truly caring citizens.

Thank you for the immediate removal of said comment and have a great day.

My prayers are for one and all over there. Unfortunately these disasters bring out the worst in some people, yet for those who are truly with moral values and understanding these things bring out the very best and most compassion. God bless one and all, and may you have your day and a parade too!

This Mainer firmly believes that the Mayor's trip to Maine to see his family REVIVED his efforts to rebuild his city. Maine's beauty and generosity is enough to revive most anyone's spirits (just don't come OWN property here or we'll tax you into bankruptcy). There is a time to rebuild, a time to mourn, and a time to reflect and take a breather. A modest parade shouldn't create this much hostility. It will give people who are there a sense of normalcy for a few brief moments during a holiday season that will look more bleak outside than bright. Especially for the children.

If some taxpayers and citizens of Waveland are that concerned about spending money for a parade, how about doing a fundraiser to get money for it and not use any tax dollars? Or, the big challenge: come up with a better idea that isn't so money intensive.

Your mayor is welcome in my state any day he needs to bring his head up and catch his breath. If he's really lucky, we might send him back with a SNOWMAN for the Waveland kids to play with! :)

Dick Gault asked: "...we would like to know how the Bay City Bar and Grill located across from the AmTrack station [fared]."

Mr. Gault, the Bay City Grill survived the storm but I don't believe it has reopened yet. I don't have any information about whether they plan to reopen. I hope they do because they had a great hamburger, and good beer on tap. Benigno's Restaurant next door has been open for a few weeks now. The Casino will rebuild and in a couple of years I hope you will once again come down to the Bay for a few rounds of golf, a Bay City Burger and a pint of Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan.

Howard, We'll make you the Grand Marshall if it would shut you up

My mother was killed in katrina,she lived in Waveland at Pineshadows,my sister Linda lived in old bay st. louis and thankfully lived. I came down there to get my sister and the devistation was beyond anything i can ever discribe. I hope with all this tradgedy and pain that a little holiday spirit can be found. My heart goes out to you all and the loss of 2 very beautiful cities. I have one more trip i have to make down to waveland and that is to put some of my mothers ashes in the sand in Waveland Beach. She loved her home and her community and was very happy there.
God Bless You All

Why not have a parade? It will be a great diversion for everyone if only for a few hours. Take a few to get away from the misery because all the debris and problems will still be there waiting when it's over. It's not going anywhere while you parade. Everyone needs a break. Have a great parade and enjoy your neighbors and friends.

People, Just think of all the debris that will need to be move to have a parade

I can't begin to imagine what ya'll are going through, however I do know that in the midst of crisis God prevails and that, if only for a moment, a child could see brighter things it would lift their heart and spirits. Sometimes we have to do something crazy or out of the moment to get a second wind to go on, and a parade might just do that. You need to come up for air just to keep from drowning. Everyone that was affected by these terrible storms are in my families thoughts and prayers.

Our church sent 3 teams down since September to help with cleanup. I just recently returned from a week. We helped to clear 3 houses in Waveland possibly to rebuild. We worked very hard and were taken away by all the destruction. Words cannot begin to describe it if you have not seen it in person. The amount of news coverage about Mississippi is very disturbing. People need help and they need it now! We as Baptists are doing what we can by helping tear down houses and mud out homes, monetary help and cleaning and clothing for the coming cold weather. But there is so much everyone can do to help. Please let people know how much is needed to get the people in this area going again. Our prayers are with all of you affected and hope to see you again in January when we make another trip.

Val, just ignore the 1% population of our state that 99% of the country condiders us to be like. Yes we do have some narrow minded rednecks here but fortunately they are a dying breed. I agree with your comments and you are very welcome in our state anytime.

Other web sites you can check out: katrina.passchristian.net, femaforgotwaveland.com, priceferrell.com, operationeden.com, hssm.org, arloandjanis.com, sylentwitness.com

I'd like to remind those complaining about the parade that, in fact, that parade was the brainchild of the folks who came down on their own accord(and dime) to help the community in a time of dire need. These are the people who SUPPLIED tents when there were none(or not enough), care, and expressed that caring without reservation in every way they could INCLUDING a parade for YOU.
As much as I know, the intention of the parade as a "thanks for giving" celebration was aimed at the people of Waveland BY those who came down to help because your community so graciously received them and helped them in their goals. The whole reason the New Wave Cafe worked so well(aside from the relentless, untiring work ethic of those involved) is because it was grounded in the idea of no seperation, that we are all part of one community, that we are your neighbors and you ours. People helping people, community helping community, working together with no BS. Basically, because we all care. Resident and volunteer alike.
This of course is just my opinion, I in no way speak for The New Waveland Cafe or any other parties. I'm just speaking from my own experience in Waveland. I worked my butt off down there at that cafe for three weeks, the ONLY real reason I went home is because I RAN OUT OF MONEY, my money. The truth is, I even sold my boat in order to go down there(my second trip). If I could have stayed longer I would, no questions asked.
Instead, I'm back in Massachusetts making more money(and selling off more of my stuff) so I can afford to take another two months off and go back down to the gulf this winter to help out. I'm also doing all I can to raise awareness and funds for people of the gulf coast. It's pretty much all I think about, all I talk about, and all I do. There are hundred, no thousands like me. Please keep that in mind. I've seen how hard it is for you people, I know it's frustrating and difficult but being negative won't help, it just ends up with upset people. I wake up each day just thankful to be alive and to have the opportunity to be here, to help and to care in any and every way I can. I learned that from the people of Waveland that I talked to and worked with while I was there.
Finally, I'd like to thank the People of Hancock County just for being you, for surviving, for living, loving and looking to the future. This has been a life changing experience for everyone. Some of those changes are difficult. It's horrible beyond description, but out of that miracles have sprung, and a new future, not just for y'all who live there, but for each and every one of us who have made the aquaintance of your beautiful neck of the woods and all it's inhabitants. The impression you've left on my heart exists beyond words and time. Thank you.

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