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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.

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The last time I wrote my blog, I was having good days and bad days. Well, that hasn't changed much. But with the holidays just two days away, I find myself irritable, short-tempered and not really able to focus. I guess it's just the emotion of the holiday fast approaching. All the normal traditions will not be this year. No more enjoying friends as before, mainly because they have no home and have either gone to stay with family or have moved away permanently. And then there's the tradition of enjoying a meal with friends and family. Well, in a FEMA trailer, cooking a Christmas meal is literally impossible. I think the ovens in the trailers are about 1 foot high and maybe 18 inches wide.

I did get in the mood somewhat last weekend, when I went shopping to try and get some gifts for family and friends. It's hard to choose gifts for people who live in FEMA trailers, because there is no space in them. So you must choose gifts that can be used immediately or eaten, since no one has any storage space. The gifts I have received this season include the hundreds of wonderful people who have come from across the country to help us, feed us and assist us through this devastation. We would not have gotten as far as we have today without their kindness and determination to help us through this trying time. An example is the donation of a mobile library to the Hancock County Library System (where I am the public affairs/development officer) to be used in Pearlington, where our branch was gutted and everything lost. The Allegany County Public Library, the Anne Arundel County Public Library and the Maryland Library Association visited here on Monday to deliver the mobile library, more than $10,000 cash and 4,000 books for the bookmobile. And they drove for two days straight to get here for the Monday ribbon cutting. How can you express your gratitude and appreciation for people such as this? It's overwhelming and very emotional at that. And that is just one story of how people all over the country are assisting everyone in Hancock County, and especially the Hancock County Library System. Daily we receive checks in the mail for funds to be used for Katrina rebuilding. It sort of humbles you that people care that much and want to help. But, anyway, I wanted to let everyone know that things here are getting a little better. The main drag here is Highway 90, and it has been cleaned up a lot and looks much better. In the City of Waveland, the area of Cedar Point in Bay St. Louis, Clermont Harbor, Lakeshore, Ansley and Pearlington, things still look pretty bad. Houses and mounds of debris are still in the same place today that they were on August 29. It will take a great deal of time to clean this up. I do want to wish everyone that reads this a Happy Holiday.

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sounds if you are still pretty much down and out...smile brother....and the whole world smiles with you...help will continue...ya'll ain't forgot!!!

Andy, KEEP sending messages. When I read yours I try to believe that many others out there are with us if not in body then in spirit. Merry Christmas

Shena, there are definitely people out here across this great land with you in spirit. Merry Christmas!

Christmas is a difficult time for so many anyhow, and to have to deal with the immense heartache and loss that you guys are going through is unimaginable. There are so many thought and prayers that are sent your way daily, along with tangible gifts and positive actions of people through the United States that truly signify the "spirit of Christmas". You and yours signify the best of the best of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Hold true to the community spirit and faith that contributes to the stability and inner strength you represent to those around you. It's tough, but you are living proof it can be done, not easily, but you display wonderful traits daily to those around you. You will find strength in the "rebirth of the Coast, just as you find daily strength in the birth of the Christ child during this holiday season. Those "Fema" appropriate presents will be loved and cherished by those you give to just as you are. Hang in there and know you are prayed for daily by many. I have watched my family who are still there dealing with the same challenges you are struggle through good days and bad, but getting through them because they believe in "Hancock County and the Bay/Waveland area", but more importantly they believe in it's people.....................just like you. Have the best Christmas you can have and remember you guys demonstrate all that is good in this world!!!!!!!

Thank you, Shena...now ya'll have a happy new year!!!...i'll keep hopin' for more rebuilding on the coast

Dear Mark:
Your courage to go thought this and document it is so commendable. Please keep it in print for future generations. I say this because my grandma Katie survived the Galvaston Hurricane of 1900. She told her story to intently listening grandchildren. I recently found two books written about that storm: "A weekend in September" by John Weems, and Issacs Storm, a more recent version. It is uncanny the parralel between the storms then and now. Human reactions, people didn't head warnings in 1900 as they don't now. Blame then and now, poor communication then and nowm and most important, compassion of others, then and now. We all must live and love as if today is our last, because tomorrow is an unknown. My prayers go to you and all the folks affected, and may God Bless you in 2006.

Happy New Year to all of you down south. Hopefully this year will be a little better then last.
Best of luck, my thoughts are with you.

Hi Hanna, I do your Granna B's nails and would love to give you a manicure when you come to visit her in her new home. She showed me pictures of your house and tells me how you are doing. I hope you will write a book about surviving Katrina.

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