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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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WAVELAND, Miss. –- Despite the brave comments of some Katrina survivors that material possessions can be replaced, some of them cannot.

Near the top of that list are photographs -- snapshots of family vacations, graduation portraits, wedding albums, the priceless images that bring back past times both sweet and sad.

A bin at the entrance to the Wal-Mart here shows that one group plans to do what it can to help restore some of those losses. Shoppers are invited to bring and drop off whatever photos they have found amid the rubble.


A few photos lie in the bottom of the bin at Wal-Mart. (John Brecher / MSNBC.com)

“Please mark back of photo with Zip Code where found,” a sign asks. Already, there are a few offerings at the bottom of the box.

Another sign notes that “The Picture Project” is a joint venture of Wal-Mart, Kodak, the Sun Herald newspaper and United Van Lines agent J.W. Bennet. The group promises more information soon at www.pictureproject.org.

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The "picture project" reminds me of the "paper clip project" in video stores now...and is a stark reminder of how much we need to watch out for one another, help and show love for one another - and stop the anger, selfishness and hatred shown toward others and in the world today...no matter the race, religion, or gender...if we try we can make a difference...touching lives in a positive way whereever we go...:)

This project appears to be a wonderful idea and hope it helps those who have lost everything in the areas affected.

God Bless Them - Each and Everyday,

Stephen Rene

This is a great idea! When we were in town to rope off the trees on my mother-in-law's lot, I found a metal box loaded with slides that were in good condition. Not knowing who they belonged to, I closed the lock on the box and left them there. Perhaps someone reading this may recognize it and can retrieve it. It was a cream colored metal box packed full of slides. I left it on Rameneda in the front yard of what was the the second home on the right.(Millie's house where Mr. Rene lived; formerly the home of Millie and Buddy). I hope it can find it's way back to it's owners.

This is a great example of why I always send my family photos to other family members and friends. Someday, we may need to call on those friends to retrieve those photos! And I always keep a special box for photos of friends and their families that are sent to me.
Right now I am able to replace some of the photos lost by a brother in Gulfport, especially those of our late parents.

I can't imagine losing all my pictures and my stomach aches for those who did. Way to go Wal-Mart, Kodak, Sun Herold and United Van Lines!! Keep up the good deeds! We need companies like you. May good things come your way.

What an awesome idea! People really do care about their brothers and sisters and it's evident whenever disaster strikes.

I don't have one photo of my parents, childhood friends, or ANY pictures of things from my past. No image of any of my cats and dogs that I loved so much and had been part of support system through bad times. Our house burned before the hurricane so when I returned from evacuation and realized how bad it was - the first thing I thought about was all the photos that people had lost. I have no sisters or brothers and just a handful of distant family left so there is no one that even had copies. Hold close what you have.

What an excellent idea! The kindness of strangers doing for others.............sort of a pay it forward thing to do. Right on! God Bless.

Bravo....other things mostly can be replaced...most photos ..can not...if i had to go photos would be a piority

I think this is a great idea, seeing as everything people held dear to their heart was demolished. This holds hope for people who lost everything. I bet this will change peoples lives and give them faith.

I lost all my (deceised) dad's pastel original artwork and 3 generations of oil paintings and almost 100 years of photos when my storage facility at Old Spanish Trail Mini-Storage was ravaged by Katrina. My Dad died Feb.9th, 2004 and me and my mom would love to having any memories back (Slidell,La.)

Ah, what an awesome project! Being an anmeature photographer myself, I would be so lost without my camera and my photos. I am quite anal about protecting them, too, but nothing I do would protect them from a Katrina bashing. I hope many of these pictures can be reunited with their families!

I know this blog is about the photo project, but speaking of keepsakes, I found a box of memorabilia that floated into our yard, here in Waveland, MS. There are hundreds of greeting cards with personal notes from loved ones and friends. There is also old personal business papers mixed in. I tried to find the person to whom the mail is addressed to, but I could not find a telephone number. Does anyone know a Gerald O'Brien who lived on Louisville St., New Orleans? I have also tried to contact the O'Briens from Waveland but have not been successful. I cannot bear to throw these memories away. Some of the items are salvageable. I am keeping them until someone comes forward. This is a wonderful project and there should be other sites or ways to connect items found, to their owner. Thank you, Pam Simmons

I spent 4 weeks in 2 trips to BSL early on doing volenteer work teams(my third trip is in 3 weeks). The hardest part of mucking out someones home was carrying out pictures and other personal items to the giant piles in the 10 foot haul away zone by the street. Some times when the owner was there we would offer them a partialy damaged photo and they would sometimes save it and sometimes tell you they had saved everything they were going to save. It was like having a funeral for their life's collections. It was too hard to make a decision about each individual item and at a point they would ask us not to bring them any more items. I knew later they would regret some of those decisions and they might wish they would have kept more of the not so perfect items. But we had to respect where they were in the grieving process and how much energy they had to give to making those kind of decisions. My time in BSL and Waveland has changed my life. Spoken prayers are powerful but the people of BSL need any one who can come to get down in the muck with them pray by the sweat of their brow.

Aside from the lives of people and pets, photos are absolutely the most important "posessions" to me, and I can't bear the thought of how many priceless photographs are gone forever, for so many families. When boxing up items to send to the Coast in the early days after Katrina, I included a photo album, with a note in the back that it at least would be a start in making and collecting new family memories....

My daughter Ivy Jordan and her husband Shane , lived in an apartment on Waverly in Bay St Louis, she had gotten a box of photos for me, planning to send them when Katrina came, I live in Australia now, and I know now how it feels to lose precious pictures, but one thing is for sure, I have my daughter and her family, safe and that means more to me than any picture could.

What a great idea. We found photos near our old property...(we sold it, prekatrina)... and wished there was some way to find out who it belonged to. The framed photo is about 2x4, 3x5 gold frame, of a little girl, blond hair with bangs, her hands are up on her chin.... on Ramoneda street, too. Left it on the slab on the right hand side of the road, if you are facing the water. We have gone home and can't put it in the project. But maybe someone reading this will recognize the description. If it's yours, hopefully, it's still there. It was so heart breaking. I'm really glad this project came along!

Also, I just wanted to thank PR and encourage anyone who can to come and help in the Bay for a week. It is so much easier to move on, with people helping to clear the house or lot, who don't have to agonize over the belongings they are removing. One senior told our kids, who helped clear her slab, that they had helped her save her marriage... by helping them move to the next step. Disaster Corps will set volunteers up with housing and food and all the equipment they need to do the houses to which they are assigned. They'll supervise and help you do what needs to be done. It will change your life and give your kids perspective. I highly recommend it. You can call them at 252-883-1776 to set up a trip, or email them at [email protected] You won't regret it, and I guarantee that you will be met by very kind gracious and appreciative people during your visit.

To: Pam Simmons, I have researched on the superpages the name Gerald O'Brien it might be of help since you are looking for the owner of the letters, cards etc. you found. Just look at the people pages section.

NEVER throw away pictures with water damage!!!! ALL photos are processed in a WATER bath and have the potential to be "saved" from flood conditions. Soak photos in warm water and GENTLY remove grim and debris. Shake off excess water (you can even gently squeegy) Hang or lay out to dry.

Man, lillian...your comment...touches my heart

This is awesome! Photographs are history!

This is such a tragic loss...after reading of all the heartbreak from losing photos, etc., I'm starting a scanning project immediately. Every precious photo I own, especially the precious ones of my daughter will be scanned and put immediately onto disc so that if this ever happens to me, I can print them out. Everyone who can do this should, but, what a horrible way to have to have to get the inspiration to do this!

Enough already, your beating it to death, and people are beginning to turn away from it..Jim

I think that this is really great...helping others is the best thing in the world and helping family's get their memories back is one of the best things in life. I don't know what I would do if I lost my pictures. That is the only way that anyone can go on in life; only in memories (which in time fade) and in pictures. All the pictures have a different story and all mean something to someone...I some times look at my grandparents pictures (from my dad's side, which I sadly didn't met) and I'm thankful that atleast I can see pictures of them. My brother was able to safe some of the things that belonged to my grandpa and they are so special; some are very old coins of when he went to egypt and different places, some are pictures of him in camels and they make me smile because that is the only way I can be some what close to him. So really....GOD BLESS all of the people that are helping all the families get their pictures back and I hope that atleast most of the people get to find something special of theirs.

the people of Mississippi....are not turning away from it ...Jim F....whatever...but Mississipians...will stick togather

Yes, this is a great idea, but it's not original. An organization (I think it was Francis Tuttle Vo-Tech School) did this in 1999 when the May 3 tornado hit Oklahoma City. Many families in the metro area lost their entire homes also (but not to the extent of the Katrina victims) and many photos were found in fields, people's yards, etc. They were collected at a central place and logged so that families that lost all could at least try to salvage a small portion of their lives through family photos. I commend those that are trying to help Katrina victims do the same!

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