Above:A 360-degree photo shows a rusted boat and other wreckage at Bayou Caddy, a port west of Waveland. (John Brecher / MSNBC.com)

About this project

In the coming months, MSNBC.com will focus its coverage of the Hurricane Katrina recovery on two cities on the hard-hit Mississippi coast.

Coastal Miss. vicinity

Though Bay St. Louis and Waveland are far from the media spotlight on New Orleans, the intertwined fates of the people, businesses and institutions in these towns tell the story of an entire region's struggle to recover from the most destructive storm in U.S. history.

Read about the towns

Brian Mollere: Coping with mother's loss

Posted: Wednesday, October 19 at 11:56 am CT by

Brian Mollere describes the eerie scene in Waveland immediately after the hurricane, when he was apparently the only person alive in the vast pile of rubble.

WAVELAND, Miss. -- Brian Mollere is tired of being a hurricane celebrity, so much so that he’s considering what would have been unthinkable just a few weeks ago: Getting out of town and away from the vast debris field that surrounds him in what was downtown Waveland.

The 50-year-old Mollere owes his fame to national media reports on his harrowing survival when he was caught up in the 30-plus-foot storm surge that smashed his town into kindling. In addition to saving his own life with a desperate swim to safety, he managed to keep his mother’s Chihuahua, Rocky, tucked in the crook of his arm the whole time.

"I was picked up by a 40-foot wave and pushed 800, 900 feet," he recalled, gently rocking on an old wooden chair salvaged from the towering debris piles nearby. "It just wasn’t my time to go. It was a ride I’ll never forget though. It’s like some of these surfers look for the perfect wave, well I had one, in a sense. But it wasn’t the type I was looking for." (Click here to hear Mollere describe his ordeal.)

Mollere, who before the storm worked in real estate and marine construction, recounts his brush with death with the dazed delivery of a shell-shocked combat veteran, and his tone doesn’t change when he describes the death of his 80-year-old mother, Jane.

He recalls sending her to stay with family members in a Bay St. Louis house that was five feet higher than her home in Waveland and presumably safer.

"I put her in the car, and I said ‘Mom, I’ll probably never see you again,’ because I used to joke around with her all the time," he said.

After his narrow escape, Mollere hiked three miles to Bay St. Louis only to learn that his mother had drowned when she was unable to escape as the house was demolished by the same wave that nearly took his life.

He then hiked back to the site where her home had stood, atop the family-run hardware store across from the flattened Waveland City Hall, gathered a few items from the wreckage and set up his camp. For the first three days, he saw no one.

"I would wake up and look around and it was like your whole world was gone," he recalled. "It was like being on a bombed-out planet or something. There was no noise – you could hear no bugs, no birds – it was just an eerie silence for three days."

In the weeks since the storm, Mollere’s camp, which he shares with life-long friend "Wild Bill" Laprime, has evolved into a one-stop aid station and information clearinghouse.

"Eventually people started to come over the rubble and bring help, bring food, ask questions if Ive seen loved ones or anything," he said. "So I started gathering up more tables and just got more stuff to make the place more comfortable, livable. And I started taking in information … and we were like a little way station here for people, because we were the only ones on this side of the railroad tracks."

But the constant stream of visitors from morning to night has begun to wear on Mollere. He said he’d like to take a vacation once he is able to bury his mother, whose body was found in the debris five days after Katrina only to be whisked to a temporary morgue set up by the county, where the family has been unable to reclaim it.

"We still haven’t buried my mother," he said. "I’m trying to get this done at this point. I’m hoping to get all my affairs straightened out so I can get away from here for a little while. Because I’m getting to that state of mind where I’m really depressed. And some psychiatrist told me about three weeks ago that it would hit me and it’s beginning to right now. … It’s just depressing, too overwhelming at this point."

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Eddie Favre: Bay St. Louis' quiet mayor

Posted: Wednesday, October 19 at 11:53 am CT by

Bay St. Louis Mayor Eddie Favre says his biggest regret is that his city can’t adequately express its gratitude to the volunteers who traveled to Mississippi to help.

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. -- "The calm at the center of the storm" is usually used to describe the eye of a hurricane, but it could just as well be applied to Eddie Favre, the quietly effective mayor of battered Bay St. Louis.
From the moment that Hurricane Katrina pounded his historic town on Aug. 29, the 51-year-old Favre (pronounced Farv) –- or just plain "Bubba" to many of his constituents -- has been wrestling with the myriad difficulties that come with the loss of virtually the entire city infrastructure: urging on the depleted city work force to restore basic services, pleading for state and federal assistance and coordinating relief and rebuilding efforts with the county and neighboring Waveland.

But despite the long days of difficult decisions, the five-term mayor has remained positive in his typical low-key fashion, and accessible, holding weekly "town hall meetings" outside temporary city offices at the old train depot to update residents on the latest news on the recovery efforts and urge them to keep taking "small steps forward."

"It’s just been easy to stay upbeat about it," he said. "I see the attitude of our people and it’s easy enough to follow their lead."

A divorced father of two grown sons and a distant cousin of Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, the mayor also has no trouble empathizing with what the townspeople are going through: Like most of the 8,209 residents, he lost his home to the storm.

But despite the fact that virtually all his possessions and memories were washed away along with the house that had been in his family for generations, he is able to joke about his loss.

"Where my house was … I can go out and sit on my slab and there’s nothing blocking my view," he said.

Favre, who says his roots in the area run all the way back to its discovery by French explorers in 1699, also took a self-deprecating swipe at his wardrobe – an untucked golf shirt and khaki cut-offs.

"This is sort of what they call Eddie Favre casual," he said. "It used to be out of choice, now it’s out of necessity."

Kidding aside, Favre said he considers himself "blessed" because his lot was scoured clean by the surge’s tremendous power, sparing him from having to come home to a house filled with ruined possessions and tarnished memories.

"It’s not … here’s my life piled here in front of my house," he said. "… And I know how hard it is. They have to look at it every day until the debris is picked up and they have to think about it every day."

Favre also has won fans by insisting that he will fight to preserve the character of the core of Bay St. Louis – the old Main Street corridor that was home to most of the city’s historic buildings and its thriving art community – and by holding the line against coastal development, i.e. condominiums.

"An extra development right now is not going to make or break our city budget. It’s already broke," he said. "So a high-rise hotel that may come in and destroy what once was, the values of what we once had … we’d just as soon not have it."

If there’s one thing that knocks Favre off stride it’s talking about the police officers, firefighters and public works crews who worked non-stop for days after the storm even though many of them also were homeless, and the townspeople who have rallied around him and them.

"I thought we had a good crew before, but it really brought out the best of them," he said, his voice growing thick with emotion.

"… And our people here in town, too. Like I said, we had people that lost everything, and all they were interested in doing was helping their neighbors.

…"We talk about heroes and there will be a lot of stories told about a lot of heroes once this is settled down somewhat." 

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Tommy Longo: Frustration in Waveland

Posted: Wednesday, October 19 at 11:50 am CT by

Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo says that his city was cut off from the world, with virtually every city resource lost to Katrina’s floodwaters.

WAVELAND, Miss. -- A stint as a mental health therapist might seem a strange stop on the way to a career in City Hall, but it just might have been the perfect preparation for dealing with a disaster like the one facing Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo.

For the 47-year-old Longo, dealing with frustration has been the key to keeping his sanity since Hurricane Katrina slammed his town, leveling virtually every home and business on the gulf side of the railroad tracks that bisect Waveland, and leaving most other buildings uninhabitable.

"I guess I … lost my cool a couple of times – once with the governor and once with the president’s staff," he said in an interview in his makeshift office atop the city sewage treatment plant. "But it was because of the stress."

The stress, he said, sprang from wanting to help his people in the immediate aftermath of the storm, but not having any way of doing so, with virtually every vehicle and piece of equipment owned by the city either swept away or left inoperable.

"It was having a task and knowing what to do and having the people capable to do it, just not having the resources to do it, whether it be vehicles, or parts, or pipe, material, even sand or clay," he said. "… My God, we’d have given anything for a golf cart at the time."

Adding to his stress level was the loss of his home and the fact that his family, including his injured wife, Marcia, was stuck in the devastated city.

"I didn’t get my family out of here until three days after the hurricane and my wife had a broken wrist and a broken cheekbone," he said, noticeably limping around his office as the result of knee-replacement surgery shortly before Katrina hit.

"… And I’ve got five kids … and they’d set off on their trek every day – it broke my heart – but they’d leave here and walk out to the highway every day to get ice and water and food and stuff. And it was just no place for a kid to be. It was no place for anybody to be if they didn’t have to be."

Longo, who has since sent his family to stay with relatives in Maine, knows something about places where kids shouldn’t be.

He is a son of former Waveland Mayor John Longo Jr., who was in office in 1969 when Hurricane Camille smashed into the city. The younger Longo took office seven years ago, after his predecessor became too ill to serve out his term.

Though Longo said the challenge of dealing with the destruction of much of Waveland has at times been overwhelming, he and the other city officials have made it through by setting small, achievable steps aimed at boosting the morale of the townspeople.

"Folks just needed anything that … was positive, that showed progress," he said. "We cleaned off the church; we pushed all the debris and things off the church and we started having church (services) the week after the hurricane on the slab."

Longo also noted with pride that the town already has taken its first step in the rebuilding process by attracting a Lowe’s home improvement store.

"Lowe’s had called … (to) give me their condolences … and I called and said if you want to do something for our community … open a store," he said.

The company agreed, and a ground-breaking ceremony was held in early October, although construction won’t begin until the city can set up temporary housing to accommodate the workers.

The Lowe’s deal and slow but steady progress in restoring utilities and cleaning up the sea of debris from the storm are just the first signs of Waveland’s recovery, Longo said, predicting that the building of "a model community from scratch" will occur much faster than most observers believe.
"In some ways we’re way ahead of the expectations of FEMA and the state," he said. "And I had told them early on, ‘You all are underestimating us. … We’re very resilient and very resourceful. And given just a hand, we’ll be way ahead of where you think’"

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Camille Tate: Going or staying?

Posted: Wednesday, October 19 at 11:17 am CT by

Camille Tate, a Bay St. Louis real estate agent, thought she was going to clean out her house and sell it, but a funny thing happened along the way.

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. -- Since Camille Tate returned home four days after Hurricane Katrina and saw the kind of mess 4 to 5 feet of floodwater leave behind, she has been locked in an internal debate: sell her Bay St. Louis house and move away, or fix it and stay.

"The mud that was still in the house was a lot of sewage," the 69-year-old real estate agent and art collector recalled as she took a break from cleaning the pool behind her Main Street bungalow. "(The house) was uninhabitable and also it had to be sanitized. This was really the terrible part of it. … This was just a terrible stench … (and) we had to wear our masks around our faces and always gloves when we were inside."

Her other big frustration has been dealing with her insurance company, which has refused to pay for much of the damage to her house, ruling that it was caused by flooding not covered by the hurricane portion of her homeowners policy. Tate, a native of the Cajun country town of Ville Platte, La., has flood insurance through FEMA, but hasn’t yet found the time to begin the laborious process of documenting the value of the contents of the house, virtually all of which were ruined by the flood.

"It’s a hassle with flood (insurance) ... because it’s with the federal government," she said. "For every piece of furniture you have to have a receipt or something. … They make you work for your money."

Tate, who spent 20 years working and living in New Orleans as a school speech pathologist before moving to Bay St. Louis in 1983, fled from Hurricane Katrina and waited out the storm in Hattiesburg, about 70 miles to the north.

"I had experienced Betsy in New Orleans and swore I would never sit through another hurricane – nor have I since that time," she said.

But five of her neighbors and friends, including a 92-year-old woman, decided to stay behind. Tate's house had held up well during Hurricane Camille in 1969, so they asked if they could ride out the storm there. They got the fright of their lives when between 4 and 5 feet of water poured in under the doors.

"They pulled down the stairs to the attic and they were trying to figure out how to get this 92-year-old lady up the stairs without breaking her bones when the water began to recede," Tate said.

She said the three days after the storm, when she was stuck in Hattiesburg with no word about what had transpired in her home and town, were the worst part of the Katrina experience.

"The unknown is worse than the known, and not knowing whether I had five dead people in my house -- and friends, all good friends -- it was just the most nerve-wracking part of it, not what happened to me or what happened to my house," she said.

Since returning home, Tate has been doing little besides scrubbing. She hired professional cleaners to remove the water-damaged sheetrock and remove the furniture and other furnishings that were serving as breeding grounds for toxic black mold. But she’s supplied much of the elbow grease herself.

Tate said she began the cleanup with the idea that she would get the house in to condition to sell and then find a buyer willing to run the risk that another Katrina might come a-calling. But a funny thing happened somewhere along the way.

"When I first came I thought … ‘Should I stay or shouldn’t I stay? Should I really work at this?’" she said. "… And then, I don’t know, slowly but surely I’m cleaning up this place and all of a sudden I find I’m going to have sheetrock in it and things just start looking like I’m going to be staying a while. … I’m still on the fence, but this is starting to look like a house again and that pool is starting to get cleaner."

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Memories outlive dream home

Posted: Wednesday, October 19 at 09:48 am CT by

WAVELAND, Miss. – Hurricane Katrina wiped away Dan McManus’ house, garage and guest house. But the killer storm couldn’t wipe away precious memories of the years he and his wife, Susan, have spent in their dream home in this beachfront community.

It’s those memories -- of weddings, special parties and grandchildren playing outside on warm summer evenings -- that the ex-Marine, former building contractor and retired insurance man holds in his mind’s eye as he plots a strategy to rebuild his home on Nicholson Avenue.

CONTINUED »

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Clothing, clothing everywhere

Posted: Wednesday, October 19 at 12:18 am CT by

WAVELAND, Miss. – America’s generosity toward the victims of Hurricane Katrina is literally spilling into the streets of this devastated town.

So fast and furious were donations of clothing and other items pouring in that some wound up spread around the grounds of a shuttered gas station.

Eight makeshift racks built of 2-by-4s and pipe hold much of the stuff, but much more of it flows in a haphazard rainbow of cotton and denim and polyester from hundreds of cardboard boxes. One box holds a wide assortment of baby formula. Another has some crushed packages of cereal.

CONTINUED »

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Planning to rebuild, one brick at a time

Posted: Tuesday, October 18 at 11:16 pm CT by

WAVELAND, Miss. -- The building blocks of John and Pat Ellis’ future lie in the rubble of their 4,000-square-foot rambler, leveled seven weeks ago by the winds and waves of Hurricane Katrina.

“Our interest right now is saving the brick,” says John Ellis as he roams his debris-covered acre-plus lot on Waveland’s Nicholson Avenue. “It’s old Chicago brick.”

The sand-colored blocks were once an elegant façade on the Ellises’ 30-year-old home, whose U-shaped floor plan enclosed a courtyard beneath a ceiling of live oaks. Unsure of just what the days, months and years ahead hold in terms of rebuilding their lives and their home, the couple is certain of one thing: the bricks will be part of the new structure, spanning the gaping void left by a storm that took virtually all of their belongings.

CONTINUED »

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Katrina’s legacy in Bay St. Louis, Waveland

Posted: Tuesday, October 18 at 08:56 pm CT by

Locator_map_1BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. -- It took Hurricane Katrina’s wicked winds and churning waters just an hour or two to pulverize hundreds of years of history and development in the neighboring Mississippi towns of Bay St. Louis and Waveland. But more than seven weeks after the most destructive storm in U.S. history, questions about the futures of the close-knit beachfront communities aren’t close to being answered.

While no one is suggesting that the picturesque towns in coastal Hancock County won’t be rebuilt, local officials acknowledge that it will take years to repair what Katrina ripped to shreds.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” Bay St. Louis Mayor Eddie Favre said of the devastation that in some places extends miles from the beach. “… It’s just nothing but piles of sticks and lumber and people’s entire lives in one pile of mess.”

It also will take time to regain the sense of community that residents of the towns treasured. “A lot of people have left for good,” said Camille Tate, a Bay St. Louis real estate agent. “A lot of people just couldn’t stand it, came back and looked at it and said, ‘I will not stay here.’”

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The historic Old Town area of Bay St. Louis was virtually erased by Hurricane Katrina. (photo: James Cheng / MSNBC.com)

In a scene playing out in communities all along the Gulf Coast, local leaders are contemplating a massive rebuilding effort at the same time they are facing severe budget shortfalls because of damage inflicted by the storm.

“We’re being promised that there has never been a municipality that has gone bankrupt after a presidential disaster declaration, so … all we can hang our hat on is that it will be made better, we will be made whole again,” said Hancock County administrator Tim Kellar.

Kellar estimates that Katrina instantly erased more than half the county’s tax base, cut its population of 46,000 by nearly a quarter -- at least for the short term -- and left county staff with just one 1,200-square-foot office building that was safe for occupancy.

Already the federal government has poured more than $70 million in emergency aid for individual residents of Hancock County, and approved more than $10.5 million to meet the short-term needs of the governments of the county and its only two incorporated towns -- Bay St. Louis and Waveland. But all parties agree that this is merely a downpayment on a long-term reconstruction effort that will carry a price tag that no one can yet even estimate.

“(Recovery) will be measured in years, not months,” said Eric Gentry, administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Hancock County.

Residents who have either remained in or returned to their homes have more immediate concerns – such as searching for belongings in the massive debris piles or cleaning the toxic muck left in their houses by retreating floodwaters.

Many also are battling with insurance companies, which are classifying the storm surge as “flooding” rather than a hurricane-caused phenomenon.

“My homeowners (insurer) has offered me $10,000 … that’s only for the tree that fell out front and a few other little things,” said Tate, the Bay St. Louis real estate agent. “They say they don’t owe anything (on the damage to the house itself) because … it was rising water.”

Only about one-quarter of the 21,000 homeowners policies issued in Hancock County included flood insurance, according to FEMA’s Gentry.

Huge rebuilding task
When residents pause to contemplate the future, many express fears that the pressure on the economically devastated local governments will lead to approval of coastal developments that will destroy the charm of the towns and neighboring communities.

051018_onetown_02

An aerial view of the damage in Bay St. Louis. (photo: James Cheng / MSNBC.com)

“The cities and the counties need the money more than ever now to rebuild … and it’s going to be very appealing to put high-density housing on the beach,” says Ellis Anderson, a Bay St. Louis resident who co-founded the Coastal Community Watch earlier this year to fight condominium developments proposed for the area before Katrina hit.

Anderson, who like many other Bay St. Louis and Waveland residents describes her hometown in terms usually reserved for Norman Rockwell paintings, said she intends to mount a grass-roots campaign to insist that officials make preserving the charm and small-town atmosphere of the arts colony a priority in considering redevelopment proposals.

Her efforts will be complicated by the extent of the damage inflicted by the storm.

Bay St. Louis, a town of 8,209 built on the bluffs where French explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Bienveille hunted game in 1699, and Waveland, which had a pre-hurricane population of 6,674, were at the worst possible place at just the wrong moment when Katrina roared ashore early on Aug. 29. Her “eye” passed just to the west, putting the cities squarely in the northeast quadrant of the eye wall – the counterclockwise maelstrom where the winds are strongest and the storm surge most ferocious.

Though Katrina had weakened from a monstrous Category 5 storm before it made landfall on the Louisiana coast that morning, experts estimate that it was still packing winds of 125 mph or higher when it reached the Mississippi coast. But the big killer was a storm surge of at least 30 feet, with wind-whipped waves of seven feet on top of that.

Fortunately, most residents heeded authorities’ warnings and fled before Katrina crashed ashore. But some, believing they had survived the worst Mother Nature could throw at them when they rode out Hurricane Camille in 1969, stayed put and hoped for the best.

“We kept putting out a lot of warnings (but) people had ‘I Survived Camille Syndrome’ … and wouldn’t leave,” said Brian “Hootie” Adam, director of the Hancock County Emergency Management Agency.

It was a decision that virtually all of them would regret – if they survived. At least 50 people in Hancock County perished in the storm and many others – no one is certain just how many – are still missing.

Brian Mollere, a Waveland resident who fought for his life – and that of his mother’s Chihuahua, Rocky – after the torrent flattened the family-owned hardware store and her home above it, was one of the lucky ones.

“I was picked up by a 40-foot wave and pushed 800, 900 feet,” he recalled. “It just wasn’t my time to go.” His mother, who had left to ride out the storm in Bay St. Louis, didn’t survive.

Unspeakable devastation
When the waters receded several hours later, an unspeakable scene of devastation awaited local officials venturing out for their first look.

“We expected to see roof damage and parts of buildings maybe gone, but this was entire neighborhoods and entire blocks of streets … totally gone, nothing left,” said Favre, who is serving his fifth term as Bay St. Louis mayor and was among those left homeless by the storm.

The picture hasn’t brightened in subsequent weeks.

“As best we can tell right now, we’ve lost about half of our homes and businesses, maybe a little bit more … (and) probably 75 to 80 percent of the tax base,” said Favre, a distant cousin of Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre. “… Casino Magic (the biggest single contributor to the city budget) is gone for at least a year, if not longer.”

Also devastated was the town’s core: three blocks of Main Street that were home to the city’s vibrant arts colony and the scene of the Second Saturday art walk, which drew visitors by the thousands every other weekend during spring and summer.

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A cleanup crew removes debris along Main Street in Bay St. Louis. (photo: James Cheng / MSNBC.com)

The bad news doesn’t stop there: The Hancock Medical Center, the only hospital in the city, was badly damaged and is now offering limited services from a series of tents erected in its parking lot; the city’s schools, which sustained major damage, remain closed, with a target date for reopening of Nov. 1; the Highway 90 bridge that connected Bay St. Louis with Pass Christian was destroyed and will take many months and approximately $150 million to replace; a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew intended to discourage looters remains in place; and residents with utilities are still being advised to boil water as public works crews struggle to repair a host of leaks in the water system.

Waveland scene
The situation is as bad or worse a few miles to the southwest, where the government of Waveland almost ceased to exist when the floodwaters swamped neighborhoods that had never flooded before.

Dlt_waveland_051019 In this video that originally aired on “Dateline NBC,” on Sept. 9, correspondent John Larson tours the town of Waveland with Mayor Tommy Longo.

“Our 130-year-old City Hall was gone, every public building was gone except for that fire station and the police station, but both of them had multiple feet of water in them and … were condemned,” said a visibly exhausted Mayor Tommy Longo, who is directing his city’s recovery effort from a makeshift encampment and command center atop a water treatment plant. “So we literally had lost every resource that we had – 91 city vehicles. We got an animal control truck working that we shared for about a week. I had people chasing me with dogs everywhere, flagging me down.”

The downtown area looks as if a bomb was dropped on it. All that remains of City Hall is a flag pole, a small piece of a mosaic mural depicting a Mardi Gras celebration and a plaque expressing gratitude to those who helped the city rebuild after Hurricane Camille.

While most of Longo’s attention in the weeks since has been devoted to clearing the streets using donated and leased heavy equipment, and restoring water, electricity and sewer service to as many residents as possible, he also has been able to get many city offices back up and running out of Quonset huts obtained from an Alaska company.

The mayor, who also lost his home and was forced to relocate his wife and five children to Maine, said the city is still assessing the extent of the damage, but that virtually every building gulf-side of the railroad tracks that bisect the city was destroyed, and many others on the other side were left uninhabitable.

The federal government is standing behind the embattled local governments so far. The initial $10.5 million allocated by FEMA went to cover payroll and overtime costs during the frenetic first weeks after Katrina hit. City and county officials are now preparing “project sheets” that, if they are approved, will enable them to permanently replace equipment and facilities destroyed by the storms, on the federal dime.

Gentry, the FEMA administrator, said that while the cost of the rebuilding will be steep, the agency is in Mississippi and other Katrina-ravaged areas for the long haul.

“We still have offices open in Florida from last year’s hurricanes and those will be open for years to come,” he said. “This will be a multiyear recovery and FEMA will be here throughout that process.”

Less clear is to what degree FEMA will cover the local governments’ ongoing expenses until they regain their financial footing.

“We’re not sure. We don’t have all the answers yet,” said Kellar, the county administrator, when asked how long the emergency federal funding was expected to continue. “This is our first time to ever go through this and I hope it’s our last.”

Optimistic outlook
Despite the financial uncertainties facing them in the coming months and years, city and county officials are uniformly upbeat in assessing their long-term prospects.

051018_onetown_04

A historical marker thanking people for coming to aid of Waveland after Hurricane Camille in 1969 is one of few things still standing at the site of the old City Hall. (photo: James Cheng / MSNBC.com)

“We have an opportunity that not many people get… to build a model community from scratch,” said Longo. “… We have the history since 1887 to learn from and build from.”

Jeffrey Reed, a Bay St. Louis city council member and minister of the non-denominational Powerhouse of the Deliverance Ministries, said he believes the city will come roaring back as long as the city gives residents a reason to believe.

“By keeping in contact with the people, keeping their spirits up and keeping hope alive in them, just by the fact that they’re here, the city is going to come back,” he said. “… If they’ve done something before, they can do it again.”

Many of the citizens – at least those who never left or are returning to the cities – also remain optimistic despite the scenes of destruction that greet them each day.

“There’s going to be a change, but… I’m hoping that it’s going to be for the good, that it will be a small wonderful community with small shops and a lot of artists,” said Tate, the Bay St. Louis real estate agent.

“It’s like a cleansing,” said Mollere, the Waveland man who survived a close encounter with the storm surge, describing the post-apocalypse landscape he sees from his tent and trailer encampment across the street from the flattened City Hall.

“It’s like you look around, everything’s gone. It’s like you can paint a new picture now. The town can come back better than it ever was. ... It can be the perfect little city now.”

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January 8, 2006 - January 14, 2006
January 1, 2006 - January 7, 2006
December 25, 2005 - December 31, 2005
December 18, 2005 - December 24, 2005
December 11, 2005 - December 17, 2005
December 4, 2005 - December 10, 2005
November 27, 2005 - December 3, 2005
November 20, 2005 - November 26, 2005
November 13, 2005 - November 19, 2005
November 6, 2005 - November 12, 2005
October 30, 2005 - November 5, 2005
October 23, 2005 - October 29, 2005
October 16, 2005 - October 22, 2005

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