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

Arts District -- lost but not forgotten

Posted: Tuesday, December 6 at 05:48 pm CT by

"Old Town" Bay St. Louis was the heart of the arts district in our community and Main Street was where the action was. Galleries, shops, restaurants lined Main all the way to the waters edge with more shops along Beach Blvd.

All that is gone now. Beach Blvd. has been swept away; there is no more street. The businesses on Main Street are only shells at best.

Main Street

CONTINUED »

DiscussDiscuss (25 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

Fallen trees become building blocks

Posted: Tuesday, December 6 at 03:49 pm CT by

LAKESHORE, Miss. -- Why give a man pre-cut lumber when you can teach him to cut it himself?

That’s partly the philosophy behind the donation of a portable sawmill by a California church to a Baptist congregation in Lakeshore, Miss., a Hancock County town just west of Waveland.

There’s actually more to it than that. After all, it’s faster to just ship in lumber from outside the area. The big payoff is the ability to use trees swatted down by Katrina while also bringing the community together through acts of kindness –- in this case, using the debris to build steps and porches for folks in FEMA trailers and eventually larger structures, even homes.

CONTINUED »

DiscussDiscuss (39 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

Aid from artists to artists

Posted: Tuesday, December 6 at 01:10 pm CT by

BAY ST. LOUIS -- Katrina took away Brian Nettles’ livelihood, but he was about to get it back after two New Mexico artists rolled into town with a U-haul trailer.

You see, Nettles had made his living making and selling pottery, but Katrina washed away his studio, supplies and $40,000 in art.

“I have nothing to sell,” he says, noting that 80 percent of his annual sales would have been from October to December.

He’d heard some donated supplies were arriving and showed up to help unload, not knowing what was available. When the trailer door was opened, there it was: a potter’s wheel.

CONTINUED »

DiscussDiscuss (5 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

Songs for the season

Posted: Tuesday, December 6 at 06:53 am CT by

As a songwriter, I know that you can't write a song that is appropriate for every situation, but the songs I hear this Christmas seem particularly out of place. I know that many people want to feel some sense of normalcy, or the way things always have been, but for me, things just aren't, and I don't think I can force them to be.

I've always had a love/hate relationship with this particular holiday. The put on "good cheer" and rampant commercialism have always seemed incongrous with what I imagine the meaning of the season to be. I resent seeing Christmas decorations up at Halloween. I think it's a sad state to wish your life away. I also fail to see how a 3 year old neice or nephew saying "I want this! I want this! I want this!" makes it "the most wonderful time of the year.

CONTINUED »

DiscussDiscuss (10 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

Waiting for FEMA funds

Posted: Monday, December 5 at 06:55 pm CT by

WAVELAND –- Mayor Tommy Longo says it was like “walking on eggshells.” That was the feeling he had when FEMA wanted local governments to file requests every 30 days for funds to pay staff overtime. He and others lobbied for six months, and finally got three.

So the next deadline is Jan. 15 -- “positively” a breather, Longo says, but probably not enough time either to stabilize staff salaries. Overtime in Waveland alone has reached $700,000 in the first three months since Katrina, Longo notes.

CONTINUED »

DiscussDiscuss (23 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

Classes under construction

Posted: Monday, December 5 at 03:43 pm CT by

BAY ST. LOUIS -- A month after most schools have reopened in Hancock County, in scenes that are playing out across the Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast, there are still plenty of signs that this is no regular school year for students. At Bay High School, dozens of parents lined up on a recent day not to receive supplies but shoes for their children.

At St. Clare School in Waveland, Principal Mark Cumella’s domain has gone from a brick-and-mortar campus to 21 Quonset huts. “Our five structures were all shaved to the slab,” he says.

CONTINUED »

DiscussDiscuss (22 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

Gnats return with a vengeance

Posted: Monday, December 5 at 02:03 pm CT by

I thought Katrina would be nice enough to wipe out the gnat population but I was wrong.  They are back and hungrier than ever! We were helping our friends get ready for a party this weekend and we were working outside.  They would swarm around every part of your body and attack all at once!

No one likes gnats, all the people I talk to say, "I miss it there so much".  I really want to tell you all that you are so lucky you don't have gnats!

DiscussDiscuss (4 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

Follow-up to FEMA Flub

Posted: Monday, December 5 at 01:39 am CT by

This is a follow-up to a recent Citizens Diary entry which elicited more responses than I ever dreamed.  Thank you MSNBC.com for spotlighting Bay St. Louis and Waveland, Mississippi!  The apparent readership of your website is mind-boggling.

I want to address those who assumed we didn’t have any insurance and are expecting money from Uncle Sam.  Are you all so down on those of us who choose to live along the beautiful coast of this country that you’d think we’d be so stupid as to not have insurance???

I wrote that we were "denied assistance because our case was declared ineligible due to insufficient damage."

CONTINUED »

DiscussDiscuss (58 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

A pre-fab future?

Posted: Sunday, December 4 at 01:36 pm CT by

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. -- The drawings were impressive and the architects intelligent, so it came as a bit of a shock to Waveland and Bay St. Louis residents when the Governors Commission on rebuilding Mississippi’s Gulf Coast suggested they look at a certain type of housing to start with: pre-fab.

No, not doublewide mobile homes, the architects assured people at both events last week.

Bill Dennis, a Rhode Island architect who led the Bay St. Louis design team, explained that the manufactured home industry has come a long way and that homes starting at $25,000 can look good, exceed storm requirements, be added onto in the future or even become a guest house when a larger home is built on one’s property.

CONTINUED »

DiscussDiscuss (54 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

Standing tall

Posted: Sunday, December 4 at 12:00 pm CT by

WAVELAND, Miss. -- She’s a survivor who didn’t turn and run -- not in 1969 when Camille roared through or in Katrina this year or during smaller storms that have raked this town since the 1950s.

Right across from the beach in Waveland, a statue of the Virgin Mary at St. Clare Elementary School and Catholic Church has seen and felt the worst of the weather.

Katrina took out a seawall, all the nearby buildings and part of the grotto protecting the statue, but the statue is still there.

“She withstood,” says Principal Mark Cumella. “She was facing the fury and it didn’t wipe her out.”

DiscussDiscuss (70 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

« Previous

ARCHIVES

August 31, 2008 - September 6, 2008
August 24, 2008 - August 30, 2008
March 16, 2008 - March 22, 2008
August 26, 2007 - September 1, 2007
April 29, 2007 - May 5, 2007
January 28, 2007 - February 3, 2007
December 31, 2006 - January 6, 2007
December 24, 2006 - December 30, 2006
November 26, 2006 - December 2, 2006
November 12, 2006 - November 18, 2006
November 5, 2006 - November 11, 2006
October 29, 2006 - November 4, 2006
October 15, 2006 - October 21, 2006
October 8, 2006 - October 14, 2006
October 1, 2006 - October 7, 2006
September 10, 2006 - September 16, 2006
August 27, 2006 - September 2, 2006
August 20, 2006 - August 26, 2006
July 30, 2006 - August 5, 2006
July 23, 2006 - July 29, 2006
June 25, 2006 - July 1, 2006
May 28, 2006 - June 3, 2006
May 21, 2006 - May 27, 2006
May 14, 2006 - May 20, 2006
May 7, 2006 - May 13, 2006
April 30, 2006 - May 6, 2006
April 23, 2006 - April 29, 2006
April 16, 2006 - April 22, 2006
April 9, 2006 - April 15, 2006
April 2, 2006 - April 8, 2006
March 26, 2006 - April 1, 2006
March 19, 2006 - March 25, 2006
March 12, 2006 - March 18, 2006
March 5, 2006 - March 11, 2006
February 26, 2006 - March 4, 2006
February 19, 2006 - February 25, 2006
February 12, 2006 - February 18, 2006
February 5, 2006 - February 11, 2006
January 29, 2006 - February 4, 2006
January 22, 2006 - January 28, 2006
January 15, 2006 - January 21, 2006
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

slide show

What's new

Latest daily dispatches:

Latest in-depth features:

Latest citizen diaries:

Meet the locals from the towns:

More hurricane aftermath coverage

Story tips?