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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. -- When I heard that the local Wal-Mart Supercenter was operating out of a tent, I knew it was going to be quite a sight. After all, this is Wal-Mart we're talking about, the biggest retailer in the world, a company as hated for its size as it is loved for its mantra of low prices, humbled to working under a canvas roof.

As you might expect, when Wal-Mart builds a tent, it builds it big. This is no pup-tent, or even a contraption meant for a circus. This is a 16,000 square-foot industrial strength A-frame, complete with electricity and six 30-ton air conditioners.

Ray Cox, who has managed the Supercenter since 1996, says that it's all worth it to be able to provide the bare essentials, like food and water, and even a few much appreciated luxuries. He took us and our video camera on a guided tour of the "super-tent," chatting up his neighbors in the store as if everything was just business as usual.

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106 COMMENTS

It is great to see this. I lived near Waveland before moving to Australia. My children are still in the Bay St Louis/Waveland area, to know they are now able to buy essentials makes me feel better. Thanks. WE have Wal Mart here but it is called Big W.

Though Walmart has its faults.................it has made it possible for the poor man to shop at reasonable prices.............and those that do not have the necessary education needed in job markets, it does provide employment for those that are willing to work even for minimum wages.
Hats off to you in even "operating in a tent".
shirleen godfrey/nassau, bahamas

I'm glad Wal-Mart has helped it's fellow Americans in their time of need. This is still the land of the free and thank GOD we still have our freedom of choice, which includes where we shop.

are they giving stuff away free or just lowering prices?

Wal Mart is great they the most common sense approach to getting things done of any company that i know about. I purchase all of my clothes at wal mart & lots of other items and lots of items at sams
Ronnie

Have you considered that Walmart pays such substandard wages that the US taxpayer subsidizes their employees with Medicaid that averages $900 per year per employee?

...that they sell billions of dollars worth of useless Chinese crap?

...that their employees are demeaned, marginalized and dressed up like clowns?

It's a measure of how low America has fallen.

I am in Waveland, and can assure you that Wal Mart is NOT giving anything away. I was shopping the other day and was looking for a particular item...and it dawned on me that the "necessities" they are providing are mostly the name brand items..i.e. the more expensive, as opposed to the cheaper Wal Mart brands. Example...the only brand of sanitary napkins available were the high priced Always brand, as opposed to the cheaper Equate store brand. Once I realized this, I looked around and saw that this was pretty much across the board. As for praising Wal Mart for providing jobs...may I also point out that they pay low wages, offer part time work so they can get out of offering health benefits, adding a burden on states who have to pick up the tab thru Medicaid. If you are going to praise anyone in Waveland right now...praise the church groups who have also opened tent stores for the people here...the difference is, at their tent stores, they are giving away the products, as opposed to making money. Please...the Wal Mart Tent store is NOT a humanitarian effort..it is yet another example of the Waltons making a quick buck wherever they can.

The low wages and making people pay entirely for healthcare is what makes people so poor that they need to shop there.

It is good to see a big corporation helping to provide the necessities for these poor traumatized Americans!! Many of us do not have the means except a few dollars here or there coupled with our prayers and concern! May more corporations have a heart and follow Walmarts good example. We all know you took a big hit but to get back in there and put up a tent with air conditioning and supplies still at low prices is a corporation with a heart. THANK YOU!

When you have lost everything you have in a house fire and then 2 years later you lose the house you have rebuilt to this storm - well, seeing that Wal-mart tent is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen! It not only gives us a place to buy things that we badly need but also what it represents - such a small thing but such a gesture towards recovery.

Wal-mart has the repsonsibilty to take care of the neighborhoods they operate in. It's great to say that they offer employment to many locals but they also displace most local family owned businesses that thrived in these areas for generations.

I agree with Shirleen of the Bahamas. My wife and I are retired and saving money is important to us. The wages may be low but people are working and I'm saving money.

wal-mart is only still there to make a buck

Interesting how a giant like Wal-mart would make comments about keeping employees to long, having their pay go up and trying to figure out ways to cut 401K and health costs, at employee losses. The only way America can make a statement to Walmart is to stop shopping there and tell the managers to stop buying so much offshore. The real article should be about the reduction of our standard of living brought to you by the low price leader - Walmart. The more they spend offshore, the more they dictate price to their suppliers, the worse we will be. This is not Sam Walton's vision. This is wall street and greed. Let's start thinking about America and the people who live here. We are your customers and more will be looking to others like Target.

Thank God for wal-mart and everyone who has made this possible.It's a blessing to see people helping in a time of need.We all have some faults yet the pure in heart will prevail.And it's pleasing to God for he bless many to help many.

shop at Big W ,and you are all going to live in tent's ,I use to shop at Wallmart ,I find out I did much better in qvalety and price at Target ,and on sale I wish Big W ,will give there workers halth inshurance and not make America 3rd contry .
see if you post this ?

Walmart gets a bad rap for being so huge. What no one ever mentions is Walmart is always the first to step up when a community needs help. Critics will rant about a bog box store in their neighborhood, but will not hesitate to drive across town to shop at one.

Job well done, Ray Cox! I'm impressed with your vision. Your focus and enthusiasm is motivating and refreshing. When are they promoting you to District Mgr???

I used to work for Wal-Mart and still shop there. Best values around and yes, wages were low, but it was a job when I couldn't find one elsewhere. Dressed up like a clown??? Where did anyone get that? I wore a blue vest over regular clothes. Hardly looked like a clown. Insurance could have been better, but still, it was insurance.

WALMART IS FINALLY COMING TO OUR SMALL TOWN AND MOST EVERYONE IS ELATED.THE REASON SOME WALMART EMPLOYEES ARE ON MEDICAID IS BECAUSE THEY HAVE SOME HANDICAP AND DON'T WANT TO LOSE THERE BENEFITS. THE PAY IS BETTER THAN MOST AND WALMART DOES MUCH CHARITY WORK IN THE COMMUNITIES. THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE HERE WILL STILL SHOP AT THE FEW STORES WE HAVE. WE HAVE ONE GROCERY STORE THAT IS SO CROWDED ALL YEAR AND THE PRICES ARE VERY HIGH. THANK YOU WALMART.

As a former WalMart associate may I say: the hourly wage I earned wasn't the highest in the world, but the benefits made employment there desirable. Unless things have *drastically* changed in the past four years, my benefits now as a health care professional aren't as nice as my Walmart benefits package. My healthcare insurance is extremely more expensive here and covers a *lot* less than Walmart's did (comparing the insurance I started when I was hired at the hospital vs the insurance I left at WalMart). I know of several employees who maintain a part-time job at Walmart as well as a full time job at the hospital just to keep the Walmart benefits package (and these are RNs who can earn up to $50+/hour).
WalMart has its faults, like everything, but people should realize it has major plusses as well.

Walmart pays 10.00 an hour for a lowly night stocker
everyone else pays less,,but do you really want facts,
all you wallyworld haters

Take it from someone who worked for Wal-Mart for ten years, they have their faults, but they do have a lot of good programs. For example the volunteer program, the match grant program. Insurance and low wages yes that is a downfall, but, overall Wal-Mart is a big plus.

It's too bad that some people will complain if they're hung with a new rope! WalMart is a business, these people are customers. Quit dissing Walmart and concede that they are the new wave of supply and demand in the world. How can you complain about a company who set up a tent, for goodness sake, to serve their customers? Many Americans still feel they are owed a lot more - free - than their neighbors.

Sam Walton would be spinning around in his grave if he knew of the proliferation of non-USA manufactured goods being sold in his stores.

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