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

Some hope for homeowners

Posted: Tuesday, December 20 at 05:46 pm CT by

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. – Hancock County homeowners who may benefit from a massive federal bailout now before the Senate are optimistic about what they’ve heard so far but reluctant to get their hopes too high.

“We are very excited about this,” says Waveland resident Dan McManus, who appears to be a poster boy for the group the legislation aims to help: homeowners who were told they didn’t live in a flood-prone area and therefore didn’t have flood insurance.

In the wake of the Aug. 29 storm, many insurers are refusing to pay claims on standard homeowners policies or hurricane coverage, saying the damage was caused by flooding and clearly exempted. That has set off a flurry of legal wrangling and government probes as property owners face mounting mortgage payments on their demolished homes and wonder if they should try to rebuild or simply walk away from their debts.


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Posted: Tuesday, December 20 at 03:35 pm CT by

A few days ago my little sister decided to make a playmobile Christmas scene, so I decided that I would make a Katrina Christmas scene. In it there is a road blocked off by a debris removal crew. There are also the fire department, the EPA, and search and rescue teams with dogs.

On the road there are trees, bits of fruniture, and even an overturned car. Theres not alot of stuff to do with Christmas but it was just kind of for my own enjoyment.

There is also a scene of our friend who we stayed with for seven weeks. There is a figure of "Uncle Chris" carrying his favoret shotgun, and a cellphone around his house. There are tables, chairs, a grill, LOTS of radios, and even a controled fire in an old trashcan.

Well thats all for now. Happy Holidays!!!

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Some thoughts on donations

Posted: Tuesday, December 20 at 02:11 pm CT by

I never actually thought I'd need to depend on the kindness of strangers, but here we are. My life has been so much easier to put back together because of donations, both monetary and material. Really, life isn't "back together" yet. We're in a holding pattern, and until the Corps cleans the rubble and stray car off our lot, we're nowhere near back together. But Steve and I both have our jobs, which is a great blessing. We also have flood insurance. I feel downright lucky, and almost embarrassed, even if our house did wash away. Survivor's guilt?

Once we got stabilized in our new trailer household, we found ourselves middlemen in donation distributions. I felt stable enough to participate in these distribution projects when they first started happening. I soon realized that I was mentally incapable of coping with the sorting, the storing, and the determining of need; my focus is a wreck, my patience is at an all-time low, and my organizational skills are sorely lacking.


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Starving artists

Posted: Tuesday, December 20 at 08:40 am CT by

These words are often used jokingly. However, its no joke if you’re an artist who has  lost everything -- home, studio, art materials and equipment -- everything you need to make a living.

Many of our artists are living and working elsewhere. Many others are here struggling to repair or rebuild homes and studios. In either case, most have lost the wherewithal to create work or the venues to exhibit work.


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Date with destiny

Posted: Tuesday, December 20 at 05:04 am CT by

I am excited to report that, after three months of volunteering, I’ve been hired by the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce!  Working with this group of energetic and optimistic people, totally dedicated to the rebuilding of Hancock County, Mississippi keeps me focused on looking ahead to the infinite amount of possibilities for renewal, instead of remaining muddled in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

One of my tasks is to collect and compile information for the chamber’s monthly newsletter, and yesterday I stumbled across something that I thought would be of interest to my friends all over the U.S., fellow Mississippians, every American, and possibly the whole world.  The website Mississippi Believe It! and it was born out of the frustration of dealing with so many stereotypical images about Mississippi.  As I explored the website, a great sense of pride welled up inside of me, and our decision to stay and rebuild was not only confirmed but also reinforced.

I must admit, ever since the storm, I have questioned our decision to stay.  After all, we are relatively new residents (less than two years) and we have no roots here in Bay St. Louis, or even the state of Mississippi for that matter.  But something quite remarkable happened a couple of weeks ago.  Something that changed my life completely.


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A timeline for reconnecting

Posted: Monday, December 19 at 11:31 pm CT by

KILN, Miss. – After months of hearing little more than squabbling among public officials about the future of the Highway 90 bridge over the Bay of St. Louis, Hancock County residents on Monday heard something new about their lifeline to points east: Jan. 10.

That’s the date the state plans to award the contract for rebuilding the four-lane, two-mile-long crossing that was blown away by Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29.

The word came from Kelly Castleberry of the Mississippi Department of Transportation, who said the announcement will be made just 24 hours after the state receives proposals on Jan. 9 from three teams competing for the $200 million contract. Castleberry said the contract would begin Jan. 18 with the first traffic due across two lanes of the bridge by April 2007 and all four lanes open the following September.


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Opportunism?...or Hope?

Posted: Monday, December 19 at 12:51 pm CT by

I suppose some people might think that I'm a bit opportunistic. That I'm trying to use the storm to get publicity for my band, but I guess I'd prefer to think of it as being hopeful, making the best of the situation, and hoping that something good might come from all of the tragedy and heartbreak that has come our way lately.

When putting together promotional materials, musicians are always asked "What's your story? Why am I interested in your band?". Of course, I'd like to think that the obvious answer would be because of the music, but sometimes, that doesn't seem to be enough. Newspapers and magazines generally want to have some kind of angle , something different to write their stories about.


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Prison labor held hostage by lack of plan

Posted: Sunday, December 18 at 11:45 am CT by

For more than a week, 50 to 75 Mississippi prison inmates have been out along a stretch of Interstate 10 connecting Hancock and Harrison counties, picking up debris left behind by Hurricane Katrina. Yet, not a single inmate has set foot inside Bay St. Louis despite a three-week old request by city officials asking the state if it could provide prison labor to help with the recovery process.

The inmates are out along the interstate because citizens of Bay St. Louis caught the ear of Christopher Epps, commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, when he was in town for a Thanksgiving week meeting with city representatives about the possibility of using prison labor to help rebuild the city.


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November 27, 2005 - December 3, 2005
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October 23, 2005 - October 29, 2005
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