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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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BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. -- It was a tale of two cities, and two wildly contrasting council gatherings.

In Bay St. Louis, there was a sober businesslike town meeting Tuesday night, with discussion about debris, building codes and ways of raising more money for the community.

The crowd was small –- half were red-shirted Corps of Engineers and FEMA officials –- and frankly, it lacked the fireworks hoped for by a new reporter in town. There were no applause, catcalls or boos.

There was even some good news about a benefactor, Bob Warner, who is marshalling Rotarians in Arkansas to raise as much as $1.2 million to build a community center, and news that a Thanksgiving extravaganza –- again funded by Arkansas friends –- could feed nearly 9,000 in Depot Square.

Resident Wayne Fillingame was anxious about new building codes, but left happy that his questions were answered. The representative from Coastal Community Watch, while raising red flags about "carpetbaggers," was mostly assuaged by the answers from Mayor Eddie Favre and his colleagues.

A few miles west , the story couldn’t have been more different as residents of Waveland piled into a double-wide trailer to vent against the city as well as federal officials.

The city council couldn’t stick to the agenda, as the heated public forum swallowed up the entire evening.

As viewed by MSNBC.com’s Ashley Wells and Jim Ray, the testy gathering highlighted a sense of helplessness and pessimism among Wavelanders, more than two months after Katrina.

Specifically, they feel that they aren’t getting enough information about the recovery efforts. They want more of it available online, which is a bit strange because most of them don't have an Internet connection, much less a computer.

There was also anger at FEMA -– a common enemy across the Gulf States -– and at insurance companies unwilling to pony up because of their contention that the Katrina damage to property was caused by flooding, not wind.

Most in Waveland didn’t have flood insurance, and remonstrated that they were advised by FEMA itself that wasn’t needed.

There was understandably broad support for Rep. Gene Taylor's proposed legislation, the Hurricane Katrina Flood Insurance Buy-in Act, which would allow some residents to retroactively buy flood insurance.

The city attorney said the media weren't paying attention to the insurance companies’ refusal to pay.

An upset audience member interrupted, saying, "We don't need lawyers. We need our congressmen, our senators and the president of the United States to say 'South Mississippi will come back.' If they can rebuild Baghdad when they blow it up, they can sure rebuild south Mississippi."

And then there was the issue of Mayor Tommy Longo, who was absent. His family moved to Maine after Katrina, and he’s believed to be spending more time in that state.

"It's like ‘Where's Waldo?’ I mean, ‘Where's Longo?" said one woman, who didn’t identify herself but earned a thunderous round of applause.

"We all have family we want to visit," she added. "We all want to get out of this hellhole for a few days. We don't have that luxury. I mean, it's a slap in the face."

For her and the rest stuck in Waveland, there’s a sense the city may not have the wherewithal to recover alone, given the reduced tax base and hefty bills.

Some at the meeting even suggested it might be time to merge with Bay St. Louis, which would allow the neighboring cities shoulder the new burdens together.

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The message from the aftermath of Katrina continues to be: "Americans must come to the realization that the Federal Government cannot protect its citizens from personal loss in disasters like Katrina, and to ask it to do so is wrong. If you can't afford to properly insure your property in these storm prone areas, don't live there."

Can you give meinfo to get in touch with Bob Warner of Arkansas who is planning the Thanksgiving meals for Bay St. Louis. I'd like to see if I can help.

I feel very sorry for everyone that has lost there home to the hurricane. I can not imagine loosing everything that I own. But, enough is enough. It is time that people learn to rely on themselves and stop expecting the government to take care of them. Some flooded and destroyed areas shoud not be rebuilt. Federal tax dollars should not be spent rebuilding areas that flood time and time again.

Why should we retroactively allow people to buy flood insurance? So we can soak the people who pay to secure themselves and line the pockets of people who refuse to take responsibility for their own actions? They spent their money on cars/trucks/booze instead of flood insurance. You reap what you sow -

The Waveland library has a computer available for people to use - also the Waveland Cafe. There is no real means of communication in the area unless it is word of mouth.
I hope the Waveland Mayor enjoys Maine as I am one who believes he should remain there. It is quite evident that the Waveland residents feel the same way!

The human nature with related emotions are no match for mother nature which lacks any emotion when acting in a natural setting. People who choose to live in risky environments, be it in mud slide prone areas, forest fire risk areas or in the gulf states need to accept their personal choices to do so without expecting the rest of the world to bail them out when things go the way of nature and not the way of poor choices made by people. Can we have the same sympathy for the drafted soldier in vietnam who fell in battle as for the enlisted soldier who falls in Iraq? These are two paralell lesons for us all to consider as we go thru our daily lives.

What an idea! Let's pass a law allowing everyone to buy any insurance retroactively. It will save us all a bunch of money. ;-)
The real tragedy is how politicians pander to the masses rather than facing the tough issues, including stricter building codes, mandatory flood insurance, and higher LOCAL taxes to cover unique local needs such as levees and seawalls.
We live on the coast, and we're required to build 20 feet above sea level. We pay thousands of dollars for flood and windstorm insurance in addition to a homeowners policy. If you choose to live in a risk area, you must be prepared.

Waveland's plight is common. Hancock County - where these 2 towns are - is all but refusing Red Cross assistance due to Red Cross' initial refusal to help them. Pearlington, MS - just West of Waveland, is in worse shape that Waveland, if that is possible.

I am in the mdist of assisting Pearlington specifically, Hancock County in general, the Humane Society of South MS and The Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse vaguely. What I am finding is that the communication is so non-existant, that these towns and counties that border each other have no clue what the others need.

Each town, city and county should get their leaders together to assess what citizens have and need, to be able to barter and trade materials, goods, food, water, services.

All of these national agencies - Salvation Army, Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, state they are helping and want to help, but these people aren't seeing the difference. They aren't seeing any action. That's why I made phone calls to become involved directly. I want my hard earned money and effort to go directly to the people. Not 10%-30% going to the mother organization and the rest to the victims.

I feel their frustration. Hancock County is a coastal county just East of New Orleans, and yet absolutely no one in the new media has even done a fly over of the area. Surprising since Brett Favre of the Greenbay Packers grew up in this county.

Why does it take such grassroots efforts to help an area that is still living in third-world conditions, without even proper latrines being built or taught how to build, by *someone* - corp of engineers maybe?!

Please keep focusing on this area. There's no one else championing their plight.

Wow. I can't believe some of the comments here. People spent their money on cars, trucks and booze instead of flood insurance?? Honestly, that has to be about the dumbest thing I've read today...

Man is the only creature on this planet that does not learn from nature. And if one out there thinks he or she does, then, it won't be long before you forget what you have learned. Positives attract and build, negatives repel and destroy. With the freedom to express, one must learn to keep positive regardless the statements and actions of the careless and frustrated. My family and I have been homeless, jobless and managed somehow to survive without any help. My family did not receive any help from any insurance co., gov't agency or any support group. We managed a $180,000.00 loss and recovered in four years and three months. I have been in Hancock Co. in Oct. and will be there in Nov. and probably for the next two years plus based on what I have seen and heard. Based on the people I met, I will be proud to work with anyone, anytime to make this country a better place.

Let me start with, we elected these officials all the way to the President. Don't like how you are being treated, fix it next time around. What everyone is forgeting is that Katrina and the destruction she left was unprecidented. We all have to learn from this. Don't panic, personally...yes there are some tough decisions that must be made but lets don't make hasty ones. I not sure what Eddie's plan of attack is (good so far from what I see) but we have to wait and see what is going to transpire (Fed and State Gov) from all of this. You all know its like mollasses.

Our personal choices are accepted, I guess you as most of the nation have not been following the news. 6 out 10 homes destroyed were not in a flood zone. A flood zone that included the destruction of Camille. A floodzone that admittedly by the Corp of Engineers may be off by a couple of feet in areas. What my neighbors are asking for is a hand up, not a hand out. Our insurance companies are refusing to pay for what they call flood, I remember asking my agent if by chance Camille were to reserect herself 'Am I covered'...'Yes you are'. Well for me and a lot of my neighbors we were not. I paid $3300 in premiums last year thinking I was covered. So I too bought off on my mortgage companies comment 'flood insurance is not required' and my agents backing that it was a waste for the area I lived in. Here is the kicker, far an additional $350 a year I would have been covered for flood...because I don't live in a flood zone. To my neighbors, buyer beware...ten years in back premiums will only get your house fixed it does not include contents (read the bill). Again politicians being politicians. So if you are like me with 4 ft or less of water damage you are probably better off saving your money and applying it elsewere.

Yes I can have the same sympathy for both soldiers because our government put them both in those situations.

The major component missing in the Katrina disaster has been and still is COMMUNICATION. We were fortunate in Picayune MS not to have lost all our homes and only a few were damaged beyond repair; however, we found out "after-the-fact" that fema would help remove debris, tarps could be provided, etc. The lack of having adequate means of communicating to the people in need and in time either via television, radio, e-mail, etc. seems to be the major problem. Once identifying a problem, a solution must be given, but in my case..I have none. The frustration of those in dire need is because they think nothing is being done soon enough. Perhaps frequent meetings such as the one in Waveland should be called and an agenda setting forth updating the actions and time lines for completion would be the best way. God Bless Them in their delima.

Again the numbness of people. We had insurance, and we had the insurance our mortage companies and laws required us to have. But as usual you don't read or hear the pleas of my community. Let me spell it out for you less then fortunate people that cant understand why we have asked the Government to help. We paid our premiums and thought we were and we were told we were covered. We were not. Flood plains established by the same government are wrong by several feet in some instances and lastly whether it the government helping or entire communities filing bankruptcy one way or another all of america pays for it.

What you should worry about more is how these storms this year put such a crunch on oil production that the higher prices at the pump were justified and yet the oil companies are posting record profits?

After Katrina struck I saw a man and his wife asking for someone to come and take their remaining minature horses where they could be sheltered and fed. What became of this couple and their horses? The report was from Waveland.

I guess thats what they do up there in CT...spend money on cars, trucks and booze. Again please become informed before throwing jabs at my community.

People who live in poverty or hover near the property line, cannot be blamed for not having flood insurance. You cannot put a blanket statement that anyone that doesn't have insurance, probably spent their money foolishly. Sure some people do not manage their money wisely but most of these people never had anything to begin with. Use your head. We shouldn't be blaming the poor for being poor, or the victems for be victems.

I don't want my tax dollars spent rebuilding homes/businesses in areas that have been flooded time and time again. This is stupid. This is not the responsibility of the government. People should purchse flood insurance or build/move somewhere else.

You folks just don't get it. Most of these people didn't live in a high risk area. They lived in areas where it has never ever flooded, not even when they recieved a direct hit from a strong Cat 5 hurricane in 1969. In addition the government officials rated their areas as no risk of flooding. The mortgage companies (who by the way make their money for the risk that they take) did not require that the homeowners have flood insurance. But now that it flooded, the mortgage companies want the homeowners to pay up (Where's the risk that they were paid to take?). Buy the way, this is not sour grapes, I did have flood insurance.

In addition are you aware that there is cap on how much flood insurance you are allowed to buy? Finally for those like me who are fully insured with homeowners as well as flood insurance, the flood adjuster thinks that it looks like wind damage, because 'after all there was 145 mph winds clocked in the area'. The homeowners adjuster (for wind damage) thinks it looks like flood damage beacuse 'after all there was a 30 ft tidal surge through this area.

When all is said and done, the people of this part of the country will remember how their fellow Americans helped and supported them (or not) through this worst ever natural disaster.

While i have deep sympathy for all those impacted by katrina i certainly have none in the future for anyone who rebuilds in that extremly dangerous geographical area.don't people learn anything from the behaviour of nature?

There is no Waveland Library. It is totally gutted, structurally unsound and will have to be rebuilt. Therefore, there are no computers there. The only two branches of the Hancock County library System standing are Bay St. Louis and Kiln. They have Internet, free phone service, fax and copy services, disaster recovery information and items for check out.

To Cliff Elicker and others interested in helping the project with which Dr. Bob Warner is involved, visit this link:


Information is listed about the work done thusfar and there is contact information at the very bottom of the web page.

The truth hurts Tricia yes people did buy booze widescreen t/v instead of flood insuance. I am sure they were thinking if they yell loud the world will bail them out. Now they will still be 15 feet below water level but in 500,000.00 homes we payed for and will be making the payments on for years. O and by the way the brain dead Red Cross in San Diego is having to evect the people they put up in the most expencive hotel in San Diego. Got to love it. PS you think when the big one hits san diego can i stay in a 400.00 dollar a night hotel. At what point did the thinking go from what we can do for our government to THEY OWE ME EVERYTHING GIVE ME GIVE ME

In the midst of so much chaos and complaining, Bay St Louis stands tall as an example of a city lead by those with true American spirit. These are people who didn't spend time or energy whining, but set about taking care of their immediate needs, planning for their recovery, and executing those plans. I applaud Mayor Favre and his entire very talented team, who deserve recognition for their achievements and for the example they set. Thanks to MSNBC for continuing coverage of Bay St Louis's recovery - it's encouraging to read about these dedicated, creative, persistent leaders and the results of their hard work. I'm sure this is happening in many cities across the area - a tribute to America's spirit and her citizens.

It is time to stop pointing fingers at FEMA MEMA, and the Red Cross. What we must remember the Katrina was an act of God. Before the storm,God gave Man the wit to move.Doing the storm God gave man sense to get somewhere safe. After the storm God is giving Man the chance to learn how to react the next time. And as for the flood insurance, which came first the Chicken or the egg.

Way to go Roy appreciate the back up but these idiots from around the country just cant get it I guess. Perhaps they dont have the attention span to read long posts such as yours or stay tuned to the tv past a doritoes commercial.

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