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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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When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, its storm surge brought four feet of salt water into the Bay St. Louis post office. About a mile away, postal worker Micki Clifton rode out the storm on the roof of her house with her husband, her 16-year-old daughter and her 72-year-old mother.

Today, Clifton, a lifelong Bay St. Louis resident, is delivering mail to some of the few residents who have returned to their destroyed neighborhoods in Waveland. The route, which before the storm served 1,047 addresses now serves only about 25. "It's an adventure every day, let me tell you," Clifton says, searching in vain for anything familiar to guide her through the streets she used to know so well.

Immediately after the storm, postal operations moved 12 miles east to the Long Beach post office, while workers gutted the Bay St. Louis post office of contaminated drywall, equipment and mail. Two weeks later, they were back in operation, sorting mail on tables in front of the building while armed postal inspectors from all over the country stood by providing security and crowd control. All of their delivery trucks were destroyed by the water.

Customer Service Supervisor Mary Klein is proud of the way her workers, including Clifton, dove back into their jobs despite their own losses. "The carriers worked so hard. Their homes were gone and they came back because they knew people had to get their mail," she says.

The U.S. Postal Service in Mississippi has processed over 51,000 Change of Address cards, and it's obvious in Waveland and Bay St. Louis that many people aren't having their mail delivered at home. Postal workers have installed aluminum postal boxes, in front of the main post office and in front of shopping centers along I-90. Each box, called a "cluster box unit," houses hundreds of individually locked compartments where residents can come pick up their mail.


A local resident checks for mail at the cluster box unit in front of the Bay St. Louis post office. (Jim Seida / MSNBC.com)

Driving her mail van along the water, Clifton underscores the dogged determination that is the trademark of postal carriers everywhere: "We're gonna get people their mail, no matter what it takes," she says, "If they want to live in FEMA trailers, they can put up their mail box and we're gonna bring them their mail."

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Micki is the type of person it takes to rebuild....just go back and do your job...more like her ...would be a blessing

This seems to be a monumental task, being that the USPS is not made to be a mail bank, just a transportation business. How is all this mail being stored?


we have twice tried to have our mail forwarded from our destroyed address....we have yet to receive one piece of mail sent to that address since Katrina! We sent in ome form online and went to the Bay St. Louis post office afterward for a second try. Some workers may be doing their job but the post office has failed as miserably as FEMA!

We are very grateful for our mail carriers. They have a difficult time these days as the streets are often blocked by trucks picking up debris. I have seen Micki Clifton dodging fork lifts as she delivers the mail on foot. You do not realize how important the mail is until you do not have it for over a month. I will not take home mail delivery or my mail carrier for granted ever again.

The U. S. Postal Service has always been high in my regard! I never could understand those who denigrate the efforts of primarily dedicated, caring people who serve their fellow citizens day in and day out, in all sorts of conditions. This just describes it so well. Thank you!

and people say .37 cents is to much to pay to have a letter mailed.......... please

The US Postal Service is wonderful and I applaud their efforts during a terrible time in this area of the country. Despite a 2 cent postage increase, this service is the best bargain in the USA today!!! Hats off to our postal workers.

God bless the postal service. They will always get my business.

That the post office can operate in any capacity is a great accomplishment. They had a bank of mailboxs by an annoculation center in Long Beach. I thought that was pretty neat. But to learn that there are a whole bunch more operating in that area is great. Do you notice that the Postal Service is run more like a private company than a government office? Thats probably why things at least gets done to any degree of success...

Our Mail Carriers are not the USPS. They are the strong, willing and inspiring, doing a labor of love every day.
As always, i am so proud of Americans.

Well, what I think the postal service is tyring to do is earn a little recognition for what they do. They aren't forced into those jobs, they choose those jobs, and for one thing I believe they should be commeneded more then thay should be insulted. And for the the victims of the hurricane, I think you should be a little more considerate in all the help you are recieveing, you could take many other exmaples put them into perspective and you will see, you are actually being HELPED not IGNORED. So be nice for once, thank the United States Postal Service!

Someone please remove the post by 'George Arthur "ART" Davis.' It is apparent that this man has NEVER been to Bay St. Louis or Waveland and apparently has no idea what on Earth he is talking about.
His comment was rude, unfounded, uncalled-for and violates the terms of this blog post's comment section.

To George Arthur "Art" Davis:

You might want to think twice next time before speaking in ignorance. If you were trying to be funny, you failed. If you think what you are saying is somehow true, I challenge you to come down to Waveland and Bay St Louis and see with your own eyes whats going on, and meet the people you have so feebly insulted in you posting to this site. By the way, I noticed you didn't say where you are from. Was that an oversight?

I'm tired of the ridiculous stereotyping people throw around, not just about this area, but in general. It divides us, prejudges people, and is generally inaccurate. People should be appreciated on their own individual merits and character, not lumped into groups. Grow up or go home. We don't need any more comments like that one.

My hat goes off to the postal carriers every where, it is not a job I would want. But when I was young mail was delivered twice a day in a timely manner (it didn't take a week to get a letter from across town). Now that I bought a big house I have to go to a 'cluster box unit' to get my mail. Is there really any question why we have moved to computers to pay our bills and e-mail to send someone a note?

Miki, I have searching for my boyfriends Mother sisters and brother there names are Adam Lemay, Sandra Harris, Sadona Harris. If you located any of they will you please have they call Lionel Harris @ 832-660-4227. The lived in Waveland Ms. Thank You Cynthia Simmons.

Dear George,
You have shown all of us here your level of intelligence if you wonder if rednecks can read....some of the hardest working, the most honest and decent "non-alcoholic" people you will ever meet, live in the SOUTH.

Kudos to all the post office workers!!! Thank you for all the hard work!!! Especially during these holidays where some could be less fortunate than others. Happy Holidays!!!

I hope the Christmas card makes it to Dave and Carol Sternhagen on Second St. My Thanksgiving card came back from Bay St. Louis as undeliverable do to vacancy even though I know they are living there.

As a retired mail carrier I can only imagine how hard it must be to supply mail service in the aftermath of Katerina. Way to go!

To Hugh W. Sterling, VA.

The Post Office is run by a private company.

Mr Art Davis: Are you for real sir? If you are then YOU are what is wrong with America today. Your intolerance, ingnorence and obivious lack of intellegence is overwhelming. God Bless all of the people in the Gulf Region as they recover from this horrendous disaster. In my job I speak to several people in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida weekly. I have never met a more compassionate, friendly and braver people. For shame Mr. Davis. I pray God never smites you or yours with what has befallen these people. You would not be strong enough to survive.

I am concerned for those people that make mean comments about "rednecks". Sure hope they don't have their life turned upside down like what has happened on the Mississippi Coast. These people you make untrue comments about might just be the only ones that will come to rescue you! I have nothing but nice things to say about the people in this area, if you don't then you need to go there and check out reality.
PS: if anyone out there wants to help save some very miserable animals - a friend of mine from the Bay told me that the Hancock Animal Shelter (Waveland) is in a miserable condition.

It is through the effort of individuals making every attempt at a sense of normalcy that the city of New Orleans will breathe again.

My thanks to Jennifer and John,and shine. I attempted to post in answer to "Art" but was so angered that I couldn't come up with anything articulate enough.

I trust that there are something like moderators for these blogs, in the future just leave remarks like his off. It's become obvious that many in the Waveland and St Louis Bay read and post to this blog. We simply don't need such remarks.

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