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Rising from Ruin is an on-going MSNBC.com special report chronicling two coastal Mississippi towns, Bay St. Louis and Waveland, as they rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

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This project is evolving. Our daily dispatches coverage has been retired. Click here to see what happened in the area between mid October and January 1, 2006.

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BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. – To the delight of no one, Mississippi’s most feared residents – its voracious flying and biting bugs – are recovering quite nicely from Hurricane Katrina.

Mosquitoes, midges (also known as “no-see-ums” and “flying teeth”) and deer flies have been particularly nasty this summer, making things miserable for work crews and giving the locals something to talk about besides insurance and repairs.

“The midges have been really severe,” says David Mayley, owner of Pest Control Specialists. “There were some areas where you almost couldn’t work outside.”

Mosquitoes have been getting lucky at the Casino Magic construction site, says Marty Moore, senior director of marketing.

“There were some ‘nuclear bugs’ down here right after the storm, and now the mosquitoes are meaner than hell,” he says.

To the west in Pearlington, volunteer firefighter Tommy Dean says deer flies have been the biggest pest.
“We had a real bad year,” he says. “You’ll need stitches (after they bite you). They crawl up under your shirt and suck all the spinal fluid out.”

Mayley suspects that a big decline in the local bat population could be contributing to the banner bug year.

“A lot of the old, beautiful homes were infested with bats, and they’re almost all gone,” he says.

Anecdotal evidence aside, not everyone buys into the theory that the insects are worse than usual this year.

“The raw numbers of mosquitoes are down this year compared to last, but it’s not from control; it’s because it’s dry … real dry,” says Jerome Goddard, a medical entomologist with the Mississippi Department of Health.

The bad news is that the drought conditions favor the southern house mosquito, which can transmit the West Nile virus, he says.

Blake Layton, an entomologist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, says that flying insects with an appetite for human flesh appear to have weathered the storm well, though he hasn’t seen any evidence that they’re more prevalent.

He also says that other forms of insect life that suffered some disruptions in the immediate aftermath of the storm -- such as fire ants -- have recovered.

But the biggest six-legged winners if the post-Katrina environment are likely to be termites and cockroaches, Layton says.

“There’s a lot of downed wood, which will boost the termite populations, … and I’m expecting an increase in cockroaches as well, both the smaller ones that only live indoors, and the big ones – the Americans and smoky browns – that also can live outside,” he says.

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113 COMMENTS

????????....what kindda DUMA**...blames bugs on the President?....some of you people need mental help!!!...or maybe a foot in the A**

Wanda, I live in Long Beach also, just a few blocks north of the tracks. You told it exactly like it is. Our house was not as badly damaged as yours but the one we were building in the Pass was destroyed. The only think we have asked for is some bottled water and that came from where my husband works. And keep looking out after those displaced animals. I do that also, keep plenty of sunflower and bird seed on hand and LOTS of pans of water. Seeing the wild life return has gotten me out of many deep depressed moments. God bless all the people that have come to help us and a big blessing on those that did animal rescue!

Hey Joe from Seattle, I'm not sure how a story about mosquitoes and gnats got turned around into something where you felt like you had to inflict yourself on the community where I live with your hateful, misinformed comments, then go back to see how many people you angered enough to respond to you. Call me thin-skinned but it just rubs me wrong when you type crap like that. What does how much I donate to charities have to do with anything? Or how I feel about the average Iraqi, tsunami victim or African with AIDs? How much of my time and money do I have to give to be worthy of basic sympathy? Don't equate me or the people of my community with someone who is beneath you and worthy only of your contempt, on your misguided perception that I/we probably don't care about the plight of others, therefore somehow we're deserving of having our community burned. I don't care that you don't care either. I'm perfectly okay with that. But unlike you, I WILL care when a similar catastrophic event happens in your community of Seattle. I definitely won't say crap like "oh the scientists all said it was bound to happen, why did they all keep living there? Oh well, none of them measure up to my standard of what makes a human being worthy of sympathy, so just burn the rest of it down."

To Bob from GA and Brian from Depford -

The scientific community is not in agreement on the Gulf-Coast-underwater-in-100-years. There is a lot of scientific debate on the issue, and I do believe that global warming exists. Unlike what comes out in the public press, there is a lot of active scientific investigation into these "doomsday" scenarios, and rightly so - these may end up directly affecting public policy. Those looking into these issues don't have every box checked, however. A scenario like this requires that all the shelf ice in Greenland and Antarctica fall into the ocean. Read these papers - no one is saying any of this with 100% I-will-put-my-future-funding-on-the-line certainty.

But I guess what riles me about comments like this is that the Gulf Coast is singled out in particular. It's any coastal region. New York is vulnerable. The entire Eastern Seaboard. The San Francisco Bay area. All of Florida. Seattle is connected to Puget Sound, no? Even the Great Lakes area, since the St. Lawrence Seaway is connected to the Atlantic. And that's just the US. Are we gonna burn all of it, or at the very least tell people to move inland?

Maybe we should. But if you're going to do that you're gonna have to do more than point to archived 60 Minutes clips.

Let me ask you - did you have this opinion when the Big Four hurricanes hit Florida in 2004? When Hurricane Isabel hit Virginia? When Andrew hit Florida? When Hugo hit South Carolina? Hurricane Floyd in North Carolina? What if Savannah were taken out by a hurricane, Bob? Would you be behind Joe's "burn 'em all, let God and Allstate sort out the ashes" wish? Or is Mississippi the only beneficiary of this received wisdom?

The irony here is that I am actually leaving the area - I will be gone next month. So why kvetch? As one who has lived in many other parts of the country, I cannot abide regionalism, even if second hand. I've also never liked armchair quarterbacks, be they in Seattle, Georgia, or wherever. Either pick up a hammer and actively rebuild, or pick up a legislator and actively destroy.

I had a conversation with a Georgian a while ago who strongly advocated the MS Gulf Coast not rebuild. We talked some more and I mentioned that I turned down a job opportunity in Savannah because of its proximity to the Coast. He looked stricken. "But it's so beautiful there!" Yeah - now. But the Georgia coast shares the same oceanographic characteristic that contributed to the destruction of the MS coast - a long wide shallow shelf. And they haven't been hit in a while.

Maybe we should tell them to move, or wish a wildfire upon them, eh, Joe? I wouldn't do that myself, but then again I don't blindly take in what "60 Minutes" tells me to.

Why are we rebuilding? Because we aren't quitters! If the frontiersmen (and women) gave up everytime they had a setback, where would we be? I've been here the whole time, had 12 feet of water in our home, had to send my son away for school because his couldn't open for months, gutted our own house and done a LOT of the work on it ouselves, lost all my relatives to moving away, and lived in the aftermath with no electricity, no water, no way to bathe, nowhere to use the restroom, difficulty cooking, no more vehicles (we lost 4). The whole time we went through all that, I constantly thought of the pioneers and how hard it was for them and if someone got sick, they either got better or died, pending any home rmedies that might actually help. We too had dystentary and any small cut could quickly lead to death due to infection from the contamination. And thank God I wasn't pregnant! Our forefathers dealt with all this and we can too! But for us, it is just for a while but they had to live like that all their lives! Those people were TOUGH!

Wow...haven't looked at this post in a while. I'm not going to weigh in on any of the diatribes, except to say that out of all the lovely memories I have stored away of my years in the Bay, there were some things I forgot. Easy to forget...those swarms of little blighters that came out in certain seasons when the breeze stopped or when the sun started to slip down over the horizon. You see, when you have a home and are inside, you can escape the little nippers and they are just a nuisance.

When you are outside working, or living in a tent, it's a little tougher. We were working at OLG church in the Bay and restoring some of the landscaping since the storm...it became tough to see or open your mouth when you squated down to slip in the plants and shrubs. You see the "no seeums," as we always called them, hover near the ground. They slipped in our ears and eyes and mouths as we tried to work and bit. Yuck. How had I forgotten these nipping little creatures that are almost impossible to see?

No problem. I remember them now. Won't forget them for a long time. I thanked the Lord every day when the breeze blew soft and steady, because the work was easy and good for the soul, and the body didn't have to struggle with the irritation of these swarming little critters. So imagine what it's like sifting and sorting through the debris of your life and property for months, kneeling down and digging and pulling and having to close your eyes and swat the nipping little swarms away. Not a huge deal, but it just adds a little more unpleasantness to an already tough job.

If you notice, it's the reporters reporting the presence of the no-seeums. (I've never heard the name "flying teeth.") If you've never run across these tiny insects in your life...I'm telling you they make an impression!...so being a completely new to the MSNBC staff, they're reporting on them. Folks in the area just take the bugs in stride, big and little, as a part of life. In all the years I lived in the Bay, I never heard a soul complain about the heat or the humidity, and they may have just noted that the "no-seeums" were "bad this year." I like what Mary said in her diary: "They're the price you pay for living in paradise!" Well...I know it doesn't feel like paradise sometimes, any more, but its still beautiful and the people are amazingly resilient and it's a shame to let something like "no-seeums" ruin a perfectly lovely summer day. Hang in there everybody. I love the Bay and you guys have my utmost admiration. Don't let these folks bring you down!

In response to Bob from Georgia, who stated that insurance was available to those living in the coast, that's not entirely true. Our insurance agent would not sell us flood insurance because we didn't live in a flood zone according to mapping. Katrina re-drew the lines on that map, obviously, because we had 6 feet of water in the house. I know that I am not the only person who has had this problem, because 90 percent of the people on my block had the same problem. So, just because it's "available" doesn't mean it's available. When we renewed our policy this time, we made sure that our agent allowed us to purchase flood insurance this time.

I am amazed by the number of people who believe hurricane-ravaged areas should not be rebuilt because they "never should have been developed" to begin with. In short, they apparently believe that areas susceptible to natural disasters should remain untouched by human hands and, if you're "stupid enough" to want to settle there, you should expect to go it on your own when nature strikes.

I find that to be an interesting argument considering virtually every inch of the United States would fall into this category. Wild fires, droughts, earthquakes, floods, tornados, blizzards, ice storms, 7-year locust infestations, and hurricanes plague various portions of our nation at various times. All require assistance from state and federal governments and the generosity of our fellow Americans for recovery.

From the outer banks of the Carolinas to the California coast; from the Mississippi Delta to the shores of the Great Lakes; from the wheat fields of Oklahoma to the corn fields of Ohio...every American could at some point find themselves among Mother Nature's victims.

I only hope that if it ever happens to those writers who apparently live in some secret American paradise where nature ceases to exist, the people reading the daily trials and tribulations posted on their blogs will be more sympathetic than they.

I am like Joe in Seattle. I decided to come back online just to see if anyone wrote concerning my post. No one did. I am crushed. I just live to see what other people think of what I write. I even try to sound extreme. I lie awake at night trying to think of ways to annoy people. Darn!

Seattle Joe, did you have any friends growing up?

Hey worried from ms,
The art of being truly annoying is so much more than being simply extreme; You also have to come across as a smug know-it-all with a self-perceived air of superiority, then you have to back up your point of view with totally baseless pseudo-facts, as well as imply that anyone who does not agree with you is stupid. And you get extra points on the annoy-o-meter if you enhance your post with comments like "this is where this year's major wildfire should be" or other caustic comments. Please refer back to Joe from Seattle's and to a lesser extent, Bob from Georgia's posts, as examples.

Mike Scheid....I wuz gonna repond to "worried" ...but I think you did...Hoooraay

Mike, you are right. Joe and Bob are the masters.

People are entitled to their opinions and have the right to express them. I understand that there's a lot of frustration nationally because of all the news coverage of fraud and other criminal activity. But damn, have a little compassion when you do express your opinion, please? How utterly un-classy would it have been to go on a website after 9/11 happened and berate the people of New York for living in a city? Or the victims of the Midwest flooding in the early '90's? I went to the San Francisco, California area for a few months to work after Katrina and all the people I talked to asked one thing- Why don't you move? These are people living on a fault line!! I don't move because this is my home, these are my neighbors.

Joe in Seattle better watch what he is saying - those North Koreans are getting closer!!

Mike Scheid - that was priceless!! good for you!

To those who say we should move, I challenge you to find the perfect place for us. Where can we go that doesn't have some potentially serious problem or other? Can you tell me where there is no threat of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, tsunami's, earthquakes or blizzards? Oh yeah, also, it has to be a place with very little to no crime. This place also has to have affordable but safe housing, plenty of jobs with good enough pay to support a family of four, with health benefits. I'm not being facetious. I'm serious. Tell me where this place is and where I can get the money for the move and I'll be there in a flash. I'd really love it if I didn't have to worry about any of those disasters happening to my family, so since you're so smart, help me find the perfect place and the means to get there.

you're right T...Mike has good comments!!!....No....priceless!


I read most of the posting and finally came across something I would like to comment on. I sort of agree with the do not rebuild comments. Or like the Jamacan said make the building right or not at all. New Orleans is already below sea level, let the ocean claim what is rightfully its ground. The goverment should not spend the 5+ BILLION to make it useable ground. If the people from there want to spend the money let them or they can move to places where it does not have the problem. Comparing the hurricanes of the gulf to a tornado is crazy. Tornados are unpredictable. The entire gulf has had a hurricane in the last 15-20 years. You know there will be another one just give it time. We recently had a tornado which came within 1/2 mile of my home. So I know the people affected. One home that was built in the 1930's was not touched yet the house next to it which was built in the last 10 years was destroyed. Yet another very old home just down the street was flattened. It had nothing to do with how it was built but where the path of the tornado went. I was on the gulf coast several years ago after a much lighter hurricane had come through. Why was it the older houses that seem to do better against the storms? My guess is they were built better with heavy timber used. I feel that the rest of the nation should not be punished to pay higher taxes to build a wall around New Orleans so people can live there. Biloxi and other places above sea level should be rebuilt but rebuild them properly or not at all. The loss of life is something that can not be replaced so protect it.

I lost a house to fire a few years back. It is very hard on you to loose everything. I thank God we were all gone and that our drier caught on fire the week before while we were home and awake. The last part seems like curse until you realize that we were gone doing laundry for the whole week with a family of 4(2 kids at the time). We had our cloths. When we returned we found the back door standing open and a note on our other car from the fire department. So I have dealt with the loss of my home. It is something I hope I never have to go through again. It is the unpricable items like baby pictures of the children, the first shotgun given to me by my father, and such that hurts. Then I find out how bad I was under insured. So I can relate to those that were not properly insured. I hope that those that read this will use this paragraph to judge the first one by.


I decided to write a bit more after reading and rereading many of the comments. I hope many of you understand why I say let the ocean have New Orleans. Biloxi is above sea level and happens to be one of the 2 best vaction spots for my family. I would love to live there. I told my soon to be ex wife years ago I wanted to live on the coast. Biloxi was the first choice. But I also told her I would not live right on the coast and that I would rather be 20 miles or a bit more inland to protect against the hurricanes. But close enough that it could be a nightly outing to the ocean. But this would have to be a well built house still yet to be safe. The other place we visited commonly was Pensicola Fl. I have often wondered if a few of the houses we looked at are still standing. There was one she said was ugly that I have a feeling is still standing. It was build on concrete pillars with the area under the house being used for parking.

I really am sorry for those who lost it all and even to those who are having a hard time due to the storm but please do not rebuild below sea level and when you do rebuild the other places build them to last and with stand these forces or not at all. My goal for a future home is mostly concrete and partly underground. Fire resistant, storm resistant(not proof), and energy wise(solar pannels and solar heating).

I sure understand what the person with the broke arm went through. I lost a house to fire 10 months before I fell and broke my back. I know for a fact the ex wife's affair was caused by the finacial stress in our home as she even now openly admits it was mostly caused by us not even being able to afford driving to town let alone going to McDonalds for a meal. It was being stuck at home doing nothing that helped to lead her a stray as her new love started out just buying small things for her like a candy bar from the vending machine at work which she could not afford.

I visited Louisiana last week to say good-by to my dying uncle. No one has any right to chastise those hit by the hurricanes if they are not familiar with the destruction and the looks of despair, anger and hope. Some of the nicest people I have ever met were in Chalmette and they have nothing. I looked for someone to simply give cash too, I didn't know what else to do, I was so overwhelmed. God Bless you all.

Hi, T and everyone. I second Rhonda's challenge. No place is without its concerns. I live in the high plains dessert, where the cost of living is great and its really beautiful and you know your neighbors and it feels like crime isn't much of an issue...just lots of bunnies and cayotes and endless sun and rabbit brush and sage. Not much shade. (I repeat...not much shade!) We have been on high fire alert, and there have been wildfires in the mountains and smoke from them clouding the sky for several weeks. For fourth of July, they were going to allow fireworks in our community, even though all fires of any kind are banned. (Go figure.) Then on the morning of the fourth it started to rain and rain and rain. It rained for 8 days straight(40 days and 40 nights???)...the first serious water falling from the sky since around Feb. (I had to remind myself what it was.) For three days we were grateful, and then we began to get nervous. We had floods...in the desert. We even had our very own tornado. Since moving here, my daughter has scoffed when I pay attention to tornado warnings...not anymore. Family from far away called to see if we were ok, as we had made the national news. Unbelievable.

Lest you think this is paradise...(I really do like it here...)we also have to worry about drought, again the wildfires, skin cancer and a mustard gas munitions storage and disposal site, oh and then there's NORAD which is also a big terrorist target not too far away, but we're probably ground zero...so it wouldn't matter much. Oh and I forgot, we also have the federal prisons including SUPER MAX, the highest security prison in the country where all our BIG convicted criminals and terrorists are kept. Those are all within 20 to 60 minutes. When people get released...I hope hope they put them on a long bus ride. But really, the weather is fine 9 days out of 10 and the people are down to earth and skiing is 2.5 hours away and if you like sun...you should come on out! Really! Consider that an invitation!

Wow, I Just returned from GulfPort, New Orleans, Pass Christian etc..The destruction is total and widespread. The people were gracious and unbelievably resilient. The residents and vendors in the French Quarter were welcoming the first convention and conference since Katrina with smiles and open arms. BUT..I am a demolition and debris removal contractor that is astounded and disturbed that very little work is being done. FEMA, Army Corps, City officials, and SOME residents are making contracting in the area impossible. WE WANT TO HELP ! PAY THE BILLS ! LEAVE OUR EQUIPMENT ALONE ! Dispose of most of the red tape, and let us work ! And..please rebuild. The history and character of the region is irreplaceable. I challenge any civic leader or reputable contractor to make it possible for our crews to work safely and get paid.

I wish to remind everyone.......please do not feed the mosquitoes.......or the trolls.......

Rhonda.South Mississippi....We are in the perfect place......it's called HOME!!!

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