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.
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.
BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. — You can see the beach from First Presbyterian Church on Ulman Avenue. It's just about the only place in Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian and Pearlington that Sam Thompson's shock troops haven't invaded.
Thompson, 25, a wiry, crew-cut ultra-marathoner, sells running gear on the Web from his home in Dallas. But that's on hold indefinitely. He's now living at First Presbyterian in Bay St. Louis as head of a massive assistance project undertaken by its sister First Presbyterian Church in Vicksburg, nearly 250 miles to the north.
BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. — Ellis Anderson is relieved. She's dodged one bullet. But she doesn't know how many more are ready to be fired.
Anderson is leading the fight against the "condo-ization" of Bay St. Louis' Old Town arts district, where quaint old businesses and even quainter, older homes have long drawn tourists and art enthusiasts to the edge of the beachfront.
Big-time developers have hungrily eyed the area since it started to rise in prominence over the last few years, hoping to lure well-off new folks to town for the view and the gambling.
For the last few days, I don't know anymore than what I knew a few days ago. We have been living lives with not knowing what, where, why or how come? Nobody seemed to have an answer until the Sun Herald newspaper published this article confirming parts of the rumor. Or did they?
It used to be that when you said you ate out last night it meant at a restaurant with a menu. It is slowly getting back to that. Not quite yet, though. We still have the free food places. My personal favorites are the hippie tent and the big tent.
Although everyone appreciates all of them, these two have the best food. It will be sooooooo sad when they pack up and leave. The hippies are leaving the day after Thanksgiving. So for Thanksgiving dinner, guess where we'll be?
I really want to say thanks to all the people who have helped in any way. We actually met a great new friend at the K-mart parking lot. He was so nice but when I first saw him he sort of scared me. We all got to know him and have a fun time with him, which just goes to show you can't judge a book by its cover.
WAVELAND, Miss. — It's such a mess down here that the cleanup and recovery effort is a massive military operation. Hundreds of Army engineers coordinating the federal response are scouring the region, led by Col. Anthony P. Vesay, commander of the Vicksburg Division of the Army Corps of Engineers. He's head of Task Force Hope, pooling all of the official resources from the state, the federal government and even several foreign countries.
On Friday, though, Vesay and his troops stepped back — for just a moment — to think about their colleagues fighting overseas and those who fought before them. On the beach at the Waveland War Memorial, they joined American Legion Post 77, scores of red-shirted Army Corps workers, other workers and dozens of local residents to mark Veterans Day.
Jerry Pittman, second from left, probes the water of St. Louis Bay with a stick to determine its depth. He and brothers Ernest, Jerry and Chris Willhite and Les Pittman (not related), from Starkville, Miss., traveled 300 miles to Bay St. Louis six weeks ago to work construction jobs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. On their day off, they walked to the end of a pier on St. Louis Bay and deliberated about whether to jump into the water. Concerns included water temperature and depth.
Click "play" to see and hear them arrive at their decision.
BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. — Jim Shippey returns from his "mobile factory and distribution center" with a new sample.
The mobile factory is really just his SUV, and the sample is a T-shirt, warning visitors to stay away from "Mississippi yard dogs" — in other words, alligators.
Shippey sells the shirts from under a big tent. He was camped out on the lawn Thursday night next door to Artists of 220 Main, in Old Town, where the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce was throwing a "Business After Hours" bash. Earlier in the day, he'd been set up in the parking lot of a shopping center on Highway 90, where John Brecher photographed him.
Almost two weeks ago I did something I haven’t done in a few weeks. I cried. It came on very suddenly. I was visiting family in St. Louis. My mom, my brother, my sister-in-law, and I were sitting around the dinner table after porking out on spare ribs and all the fixings. I looked around to see all of Terri’s hanging plants, china proudly displayed in the china cabinet that once belonged to my parents, and the cute Halloween decorations populating the shelves, nooks, and pretty much every available space. All of a sudden, it got to me -- that I used to have all this stuff. It is the stuff that makes a house a home.
I started boo-hooing and my family just looked at me, not knowing what to do. The entire episode — from falling off the deep end to getting it back together — probably lasted no more than 2-3 minutes. But still, I had lost it. And here I thought I was back to being normal.
WAVELAND, Miss. -- Glance at the sturdy beams, ignore the staircase to nowhere, close your eyes and you can almost imagine the Filinas' fine house on St. Joseph's Avenue, within earshot of the gulf waters.
The thick timber skeleton still frames the ground floor, which was used for parking. Above were two more levels that Jeff and Heather had called home since 2001, when they finished building it themselves.
I was just reading some of the Citizen Diaries and the one from the lady about her autistic child really got me. So many of us have lost everything. I guess you could say that I was lucky, because my house was not washed away, leaving only a slab.
But my house has shifted off the pillars and is sitting with its rear end on the ground, causing the pillars to poke through the floor. All the floor joists are cracked and splintered, and I have just come to the realization that my house will probably have to be demolished. That is a hard thing to realize and deal with. I am 56 years old and have lived in that house for 51 years. Now what do I do? I have a mortgage on the house that will be demolished in the next several weeks. I am a single working female, and do not have the ability to rebuild my own house.