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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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BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. – With Christmas nigh, Hancock County is taking a breather.

On the eve of the big day, there’s very little traffic or action on the countless construction jobs. Even the normally packed Wal-Mart and Waffle House are only sparsely populated. Locals are huddling with friends and families in whatever shelter they have, and crews of workers have left the area for the holiday. It is, after all, a Saturday.

Making a bright appearance throughout Waveland and Bay St. Louis, however, are numerous homes, businesses and, yes, FEMA trailers, that their occupants found the time and spirit to decorate despite the demands of post-Katrina life.

In Bay St. Louis, there’s a contest for the best-decorated trailer. The winners haven’t been announced yet, but the entries are as innovative as many of the work-arounds for everyday life in a disaster zone. One sports a giant tag and ribbon as if it is a gift from FEMA. A tree in front of another is bedecked with the icons of recovery from water bottles to MRE’s.

Happy holidays and enjoy the images above from MSNBC.com photographers James Cheng and John Brecher.

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33 COMMENTS

wonderful the spirit is not lost!!!!No contest....cause their ALL WINNERS...Happy New Year

Merry Christmas to all,
It is wonderful to see that the people who have been
devistated by Katrina can still enjoy the season when they've lost so much. I have been following the Katrina fiasco since the beginning. My heart has just been breaking for all, my prayers and many tears have been for all. I admire the faith, courage and strength that those affected have. Don't know what I would do in the same situation. I appreciate all that I have more than ever.

I'm so glad to see everyone rallying around and fighting to keep the Christmas spirit alive, even in the face of adversity. That shows you what a great bunch of people we have in Mississippi.

"Christmas Prayer"


"Loving Father,
Help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake. Amen."


- Robert Louis Stevenson

My Heart Goes Out To All In MS This Holiday Season, Who Were Hit By Katrina. This Includes My Family In Biloxi Who Lost Everything And AnotherMember In Gulfport Who Sustained Damage.
FEMA , The RED CROSS and National Guard: " BLESS YOU ALL FOR ALL THAT YOU HAVE DONE AND ARE DOING FOR THE PEOPLE OF MISSISSIPI !!! "


I admire the people that were displaced from the hurricane and are trying to rebuild their lives. I have had trials and tribulations during my lifetime; but not compaired to what they are experiencing. As americans we must all assist in any way possible to help. To those who sit on their butts and do nothing; I say get a change of attitude and help you and your family recover. To the federal government I say make sure the vast amounts of money are wisely spent. Accounts in the news of millions of dollars that will be paid to scammers, I say prosecute and jail.

My Heart Goes Out To All In MS This Holiday Season, Who Were Hit By Katrina. This Includes My Family In Biloxi Who Lost Everything And Another Family Member In Gulfport Who Sustained Damage.
FEMA , The RED CROSS and National Guard: " BLESS YOU ALL FOR ALL THAT YOU HAVE DONE AND ARE DOING FOR THE PEOPLE OF MISSISSIPI !!! "

Those trailers look BEAUTIFUL with the Christmas decorations. Hope they will consider keeping some sort of festive lights out until they get homes to go back into.

It's so good to see that some Holliday Joy and love is still in the Hearts of alot of these folks whom have lost so much due to the forces of nature and the disasters from the hurricanes.
Its so refreshing to see that these folks still have the will,want,strength,knowledge,and faith to pull them selves up from the depths of despair and lost to starting over again to re build and push ownwith life and not give in to depression and losss .
I wish to each a Merry Christman and in New Year and all the days that follow.

Katrina you may have bludgeoned us senseless but Life and Love continue in Hancock County. Merry Christmas all and know God Loves ya!

Wow, what a great job. I have to hand it to the people who lost so much and at least now have the spirit of Chistmas. Hang in there, things will get better. Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!!!

there is no contest....cause all are WINNERS!!!the holiday spirt...is still ALIVE...and kickin'

May God continue to Bless each of you with the strength and endurance to live out the Christmas spirit. This year, you are the example for this country on what Christmas means. Its all about ThanksGiving for what we have been, not what we had or could have had. Thanks.

Lights of hope for the future decorate these temporary homes...may God bless these families and prosper them this holiday season and in 2006.

The lights are beautiful! When life hands you lemons, you make lemonaide! God bless all of those affected by this tragedy.

Merry Christmas to you all and thank you for reminding us that it's our spirit that makes us survivors and our faith that gives us strength. You're all in my prayers

I am so proud of my fellow Mississippians!!!! May God bless you and may 2006 be a great year to rebuild. My love goes out to all of my family in Gulfport and all of their friends!!!!!

Did you ever think of how it'S similar to Channukah, (or however you spell it)? The Festival of Lights! We didn't think we'd have enough for one night, but it turned that we had as much as we needed! I don't know ~ I just thought I would interject that ecumenical note upon this blessed season.

Special thanks to Dixie, in Poplarville for the Robert Louis Stevenson Christmas prayer.

As someone who hauls FEMA trailers from factory-laden
Northern Indiana, myh heart bleeds for the people who should be in a FEMA trailer but aren't because the government just can't get their act thogther. It's getting bad when you take a trailer to Ponchatula and the guy on the lot screams at you and asks what you want him to do with it - the ones you have brought over the weeks are still there plus hundreds of others and they're not getting to the people who need them. Come on, people, we can do better.

Each Spring we visit Bay St. Louis and Waveland. Our hearts are touched by the spirit of the people there. May God Bless each and every one of you in the coming year with health and prosperity. We hope to see you in the Spring of 2006...you have touched our hearts with your strength and courage.

I have a question for everyone.....This may sound stupid, but it has been bothering me for awhile. We live in St. Tammany Parish (Slidell). We were not allowed back into the Parish until Sept 6th. We had no power, but our house was ok, but our neighbors house had many large pines that fell on it. Since they were not here (we were in touch by phone) we paid a "contractor" $2,500.00 to clean off and trap their roof. We had no idea what FEMA was paying for then or even where they were. These guys came through the subdisivion in "droves" for tree removal and roof tarps. Now I am woundering if he turned in the paper work to FEMA and got paid again for the same job. It later came out that you had to sign up for FEMA, but that was weeks later. I know this guy did numerous houses in this subdivision at that time and if he also got paid by FEMA that cost would have gone from $2500.00 paid by the homeowner to $5,000.00 per roof part paid by the homeowner, part paid by the taxpayer (FEMA) Nice piece of change for about 2hrs work in this case! Anybody know how I can find out?

Our friends from BSL/WL...bless you this season for continuing to fight for normalness in a frustrating situation. With our jobs gone, we had to leave the area. But it does not mean we have forgotten our friends and neighbors. Our prayers are with you, as yours are with others.

God Bless your spirits...................

What a wonderful Christmas Spirit is present in these pictures. God bless all of you during this Christmas Season.

Jane,

I would contact FEMA and ask them their protocol and even if they can trace payment to the name of your contractor. Or, you could give me the details on how to get paid $2500 per hour - I wouldn't mind making that kind of cash!

Wouldn't it be more fitting for Laurie Ladner's FEMA trailer decoration to say, "To: Laurie #939656396 From: The American taxpayers" vice "From: FEMA?" Let us not forget it's not Federal Govenrment that "gives", but all of us who pay taxes. I'm glad for her in that she has a temporary place for the holidays, at least until she can once again become re-established.

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