What is this?

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.

Map of Southeaster United States

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.

Click here for bios of the reporters and media producers who have worked on the series.

How you can help


Get the latest stories, journal entries and images via RSS subscription.

HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. -- If you feel the urge to buy Artillery Shells, Warhawk Missiles, B-29 Bombers or even an 8-Shot Hurricane at 3 a.m., you need look no further than “Crazy Carl’s” fireworks stand off Highway 90.

Despite the fact that both Bay St. Louis and Waveland have banned fireworks sales and use this year, fearing the possibility of a conflagration starting in the debris of Hurricane Katrina, "Crazy Carl's" has found a legal niche by getting a permit to set up shop on a slice of county land near the border between the two cities.

"Crazy Carl's” normally operates two or three stands in this area, but this year the company owned by Carl Hodges (aka "Crazy Carl") has set up only one red-and white-striped tent.

“It’s a little slow this year, but we’re doing all right,” says manager Mike Dean, who treks in daily from Pearl River, La.

The brightly lit tent opened Dec. 26 and will remain open 24 hours a day until late on New Year’s Eve.

Locals are stopping by to pick up single fireworks for as little as 15 cents and, for those planning more elaborate celebrations, monstrous boxes containing more than 15,000 individual fireworks for $175.

Chris Kerlee was pleased after spending $45 on an assortment of fireworks. “That’s economic shopping,” he said with a smile as he bundled the large box into his arms.

As Dean, his son, Tyler, and his fiancée, Heather, prepared to hand the reins to an employee who works the night shift, they said they feel they're filling a need despite the cities' fireworks bans.

“People really need the celebration this year, after the tragedy,” said Heather, who was among those who lost a home to Katrina. “People need something to help them forget … even if it’s just for one night.”

MAIN PAGE NEXT POST 4 months later: A brighter 2006?

Email this EMAIL THIS


The heck with Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, these guys take the cake. Nothing like a tender box of debris going up to finish off what Katrina left behind. Real smart!!!!!

As a firefighter in North Texas (who's tired of watching buildings burn when the wind's too high for us to keep up with the flames)- just be caresful out there- fireworks are a good way to lose a few dozen houses- and, oh, wait- ya'll have already lost your homes. Well, in that case- go for it!


Hey shoot em off do it!!!!!!!!

Obviously, everyone thinks that everyone else has common sense, but wouldn't common sense tell you that if it's against the law, that maybe that law is there for a reason? Oh sure, there's toxic waste that when it catches on fire releases more deadly toxins into the air, increasing the possibilty for even more of a disaster, and sure, we'll all wake up on New Years day to read the latest news, and maybe nothing will have happened, but maybe something will. All I'm saying is you guys put too much faith in the stupid people.

I think fireworks are a great idea to celebrate this new year and to work to get things back to normal. I'm sorry for the haters that don't like fireworks. You should feel happy and try to make things better for 2006, even if you got your face disfigured by fireworks in the past. You should have been more careful!!!!! Have fun, be safe and don't let anything catch fire!!! to keep everyone happy!!! Happy New Years!!!

ok lets deal with facts 2006 will come even if you dont have fireworks do you think that to have fireworks will somehow change your lot in life ?
havent you had enough bad luck without asking for more
please use your head and have a quiet new years
maybe that will change your luck
guess what fires that might start from this can kill your children not just trash piles and homes


If shooting fireworks will raise your morale adn make you feel happy---SHOOT 'EM--- If you are coing to cry about how much the BIG ones cost and it will take away from the table or under the christmas tree---DON'T SHOOT 'EM---At any rate GOOD LUCK you guys and gals on the coast

In the midst of such a tragedy, homelessness, disaster... fireworks is the best thing they can think of to celebrate the New Year? I think it's motivating the business owners press-on amidst hardship. It's not like they're contributing to the delinquincy of minors. I think it's assumed responsible adults are purchasing the fireworks who will exercise responsible decision making when celebrating with pyrotechnics. "Please shoot off fireworks in flooded areas only!"

yo if we can buy guns and shot them we should be alowed to own fire works and one more thing tere only dageroes in the hand of some inxeprinced just like a gun

Mississippi strongly believes in tradition. Imagine all the kids who have lost everything, Christmas surely wasn't the same. It is important for the children to keep some traditions. As long as responsible adults are the ones shooting, on the beach, away from debris/wreckage, why take that away from the kids? Fireworks are such excitement to them!

yo if we can buy guns and shot them we should be alowed to own fire works and one more thing tere only dageroes in the hand of some inxeprinced just like a gun

To everyone out there not from MS, AL, LA, TX, FL... I am from MS and it is definatly TOO EARLY to be making jokes about Katrina, be sarcastic about the ravage she left, or downplay what is going on down here. We are trying to return to normalcy, put this year behind us, and give our kids a childhood! Happy New Years to all!

What is New Year's without fireworks? I say: Have At It!!! Oh, JANE and JB, are you truly that ruthless that you are calling these people who lost their homes and some didn't even have the means to leave before the storm hit morons and idiots? Wow, there really are heartless people out there. One word: disapointing.

Fireworks on New Year's is a time-honored Southern tradition, ya'll. Keeping traditions alive is what makes life normal.

Anyone who needs to use fireworks really does need to get a life. It concerns me that noise,fire and just plain disturbing your neighbors, and any animals, is considered fun. Also it's a total waste of money and time. There are many ways to celebrate the New Year without feeling you "DESERVE" it, and this will make everyting ok, for about 15 mins.

Guess the government and or cops just don't have enough control or enough to do!!

Give me a break. If they want to have some fun let them. This country is getting way too full of itself. People need to just chill out and if they don't like it then move to Canada.

Little has changed in the intervening centuries. In the year 2000, in just one celebration staged over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, 20 tons of fireworks were set ablaze to entertain a million or more spectators gathered on the harbor foreshores. During the same year, in the United States, $625 million was spent on nearly 157 million pounds [70,000,000 kilograms] of fireworks. Certainly, many cultures continue to be fascinated by fireworks, and it can still be said: “They seem to have no regard for expense where fireworks are concerned.”

What ever happend to common courtesy? No consideration for anyone else, is what I call being full of oneself.

If you don't understand why we Southerners feel the need to do it every year, I guess you just need to come down and visit to truly experience the magic and mystery of a Southern New Year. Ya'll have fun blowing stuff up! Drink a beer for me too!

Just wish that the same folks that shoot off the fireworks would clean up the fireworks afterwards. What a mess it leaves twice a year on our beaches (which are still lovely, thank you.) Pick it up, Mississippi!

Dang ya bunch of party poopers.We southern folks know how to shoot anything and everything. ok so sometimes we get a bit to carried away.Ya only live once.Just got back with my fireworks and gonna have a ball tomorrow nite.So Neighbors go get ya some noise makers,and let them rip.

JAF, why is it your job to tell people whether or not they have a life. I don't think using fireworks, or wanting to, effects someones 'life' status. Seriously. What do you concider fun, JAF? Apparently you are the only legit 'fun haver'. The enlightened one. Congrats. Also, you appear to be everyones financial advisor. You're probably broke. So shut up. Aight, enough raging, i'm going to go light off some fireworks and its not even new years.

Comments for this post have been closed.


Trackbacks are links to weblogs that reference this post. Like comments, trackbacks do no appear until approved by us. The trackback URL for this post is: http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b0aa69e200d8346e190353ef

More Rising from Ruin

Story tips?