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.
While homeowners await insurance settlements and building permits before they can start their reconstruction, the largest construction project in Bay St. Louis is moving ahead at full steam. The CSX railroad bridge that spans the Bay of St. Louis from here to Pass Christian is well ahead of schedule.
When MSNBC first visited the project in October, project manager Billy Baughman and his crew were laying 60-foot-long concrete beams across the piers Katrina left sticking out of the water.
"We just laid the last beam on Monday," Baughman said. "Now the center of activity is on the swing span."
The swing span is a section of bridge that literally swings open to allow boat traffic through; it needs to be repaired and completely rewired.
The original schedule was to get the first train across the bridge by Feb. 28, but Baughman estimates they're about three weeks ahead of that.
There are more than 6,600 people still missing as a result of Hurricane Katrina, according to the National Center for Missing Adults, a group working with the Justice Department on the issue.
The missing are out there, somewhere. Alive or dead or … just plain gone with the wind.
"What a perfect time for someone to disappear," says Gary Hargrove, Harrison County coroner and member of an ad hoc task force working to locate the missing from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, of the circumstances surrounding the destruction of Hurricane Katrina.
Hargrove’s task force has winnowed the missing list from the 1,300s down to just 68. "But really, there are only 12 missing," he says quite matter-of-factly. And frankly, it’s only those 12 he’s really concerned about. "The other 56 are child molesters or other types of criminal" that have likely used the chaos wrought by Katrina to slip into the wind, Hargrove said. "These are people that don’t want to be found, aren’t going to be found."
BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. -- The top beauty enforcement officer in this once idyllic beach town is driving around in a foul mood. You see, someone’s stealing pink flamingos -- in fact, he’s lost two from outside his FEMA trailer and wants them back.
People’s flamingos are coming up missing and they’re not showing up on anyone’s yard,” says Jimmy Loiacano, who really is in charge of beautification for Bay St. Louis.
His third and last flamingo is now on the grill of his pickup truck -- shielded with the protective forces of a zip tie, a Christmas wreath and mini-dolls.
“Somebody tried to poke his eye out,” he says as he takes a permanent marker to the bird’s face in a delicate surgery. “He’s got to see where he’s going.”
As we pass the 100 day mark for Hurricane Katrina here in Hancock County, some days are good, some are bad. Sometimes I find myself very angry and bitter about what has happened here.
But, as I listened last night on C-Span to the Congressional hearing on the Hurricane Katrina Response, I was proud to be a Mississippian. Governor Haley Barbour and his team were praised for their pre- and post-Katrina planning and the job they are doing. The Governor pleaded for assistance for the citizens of the state, especially those who lost homes, but had no flood insurance because they were not in a flood zone. He said, "We need help and we need it now."
WAVELAND, Miss. -- Half of the Hancock County Library System was taken out by Katrina. The Pearlington branch was gutted and is still being used as a shelter for about a dozen people.
The Waveland branch, renovated and expanded in 2003, was also gutted, and books lie around the shell of what was a building, some caked into the ground after three months of mud, rain and sunshine.
One baked history book just outside the entrance was turned to a chapter titled: “Prologue: The First Hundred Days.” The author was referring to President Franklin Roosevelt’s efforts to get the nation out of the Great Depression, but destiny might have had a hand in leaving a message for Waveland -- that nearly 100 days after Katrina, this too will pass.
BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. -- Lifelong Bay St. Louis resident John Wilkerson has provided his neighbors and MSNBC.com viewers with an amazing photographic bridge between the past and the present in his hurricane-ravaged town.
On his way to seek shelter as Katrina eyed the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Wilkerson, 49, focused his camera on a number of landmarks, presciently realizing they might not look the same when the storm clouds lifted. When those clouds did lift, he took his camera out for another round of shots.
A series of 11 photographic panels, available by clicking on the link at the top of this item, shows views of various Bay St. Louis landmarks and other scenes as they appeared just before the storm and just after. We'll let the images speak for themselves, but you can also listen to some of Wilkerson's thoughts about his photographic endeavor.
LAKESHORE, Miss. -- The First Baptist Church Myrick in Laurel, Miss., doesn’t have a huge congregation, just 125, but that didn’t stop Pastor Jackie Spell and three members from packing up a mobile kitchen trailer and showing up just in time for lunch one sunny day at the relief camp on the property that had been the Lakeshore Baptist Church.
Hamburgers and chicken patties were on the menu and the out-of-town cooks had plenty of takers tired of the canned and packaged food they’ve had to rely on.
This week in literature class we were asked to write a paper on our experiences in the hurricane. I wrote about the whole time I was in Hattiesburg and Birmingham I was wondering how my house was. My mom has been asking me what I want for Christmas and my birthday -- my birthday's on Christmas.
I can't realy think of any thing I really want, it's hard to get into the Christmas spirit. Most people have trees smaller than than their dogs. My aunt, uncle, and grandfather are coming down for Christmas. If we have jip-board downstairs we can make a room for my grandpa down there. If not he'll get my room and I'll sleep in my sister's room. Merry Chistmas.
Remember last year when the Tsunami hit Asia it was all over the news but eventually people sort of forgot about it and the people affected by the giant wave? I guess that is how it is with all news stories, though.
I have been thinking about them more though because now we are in almost the same predicament. I know that in a year our town will not be back to normal or anywhere near it. So I have started praying for the victims of the Tsunami again because there are still people homeless and needing help. Also I don't want people to forget us!