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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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Mary Perkins can see the "light at the end of the tunnel" as volunteers near completion of her new home in Bay St. Louis.

Courtesy of Mary Perkins

On Tuesday, Aug. 29, we will mark the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. It seems almost surreal that it has been a year. So much has happened, and so much has not happened. The desolate seven miles of beach in Hancock County is still the same. Oh, yeah, it's pretty much cleaned up, but the slabs are really all that's there.

Here, we are planning many activities to commemorate the anniversary of Katrina. We will remember those we lost that morning at 9:00 a.m. when there is a moment of silence, and then all the sirens and church bells left will ring across the county. Remember us on Aug. 29 at 9:00 a.m. CDT please. Remember us for those who died. And remember us for those that are living, trying to get their lives back together and move on to bigger and better things.

Don't forget us because one year has passed and we SHOULD be OK. Because we are not OK. We have a long road to go yet. And we need the country to remember us. Remember that Hancock County was the hardest hit by Katrina. Not New Orleans. New Orleans was a manmade disaster with the levees that happened after Katrina hit. We were hit by Katrina and in the worst way.

Yes, there will be celebrations across the county on Katrina's anniversary. In fact, there have been activities each week during the month of August. We do not want to sit around and mope and cry because Katrina hit one year ago. We want to celebrate our spirit, our dreams for the future and our lives. Join with us in our celebrations. We also want to remember and honor those hundreds and thousands of volunteers who have come down here and given their precious time, energy and money to assist us in the rebuilding of our homes, our lives and our towns. Without you, we would not be as far along as we are right now today. What a wonderful thing you have done for us, and we are most grateful.

Now, to a lighter note -- my house. The attached photo shows you how far along my house has come in five short weeks. We are now in the process of beginning the mechanical and electrical work, along with the second phase of plumbing. My heart is overwhelmed at the work the volunteers from Lagniappe Church have done in such a short period of time. There is light at the end of the tunnel for me, and it is really a wonderful feeling to know that the puppy dog (Pokey), the kitty cat (Freeway) and I will have a place to call home soon.

Even though MSNBC will not be covering the growth here as often in the months to come, I will still be posting blogs to you, so look for them.

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35 COMMENTS

Oh Mary, we can never forget so many things. They are permanently etched in our hearts. Tears stream down my cheeks as I remember the impact Katrina had on all of you there and on those of us who came to try to help. Your suffering has been so great. I still weep to think of your loss and your pain. I smile when I know that you will have your new home - you and Pokey and Freeway. Thank you, Mary, and every one of y'all who taught us how resilience and determination and faith and prayer really do work. And, Mary, always remember these things: There really are people who care. We are all stronger than we think we are. All things ARE possible with God's help. And, you and your fellow Mississippians are an inspiration to the rest of us. We salute you. We celebrate your survival. And, we remember....oh how we will always remember.....

I always look for and enjoy your blogs Mary. I hope you , Pokey and Freeway are in the new HOME soon!...bless you.

Blessings and congrats to you, Mary, on the near completion of your home. I am so proud of all the Gulf coast residents who have gone forward despite formidable odds, and even the criticisms of fellow Americans. I am reminded of the little anthill and ants who scatter after being stepped on and destroyed. Come back tomorrow and you will see a new anthill and all the ants busily going about their business. The coast will never be the same, but the important things about it will never change. People like you, Mary, and the whole spirit of all the wonderful people there. Good luck!

Hi Mary,
I am another one who regularly reads your blogs and I come away inspired. The photos you post tell the story in a way words cannot. I worry for so many of the wonderful friends we've met in Mississippi. I know that this anniversary will be a turning point for many. It may be a good one (rebirth) for some and I fear it could be devastating (losing hope) for others. Your entries here tip the scales in favor of hope, and positive forward momentum. Thank you for that and please keep us current with your progress. Our group has special activities planned for Sunday and on Tuesday, a live video hookup with our friends in Waveland, Bay St. Louis and Diamondhead. We will pause in silence at 9 a.m. on Tuesday. We are with you, here up north.

There is so much to be thankful for and so many to remember. But let me tell you and all your neighbors along the coast, I have never been more proud to call Mississippi my home and birthplace. You all have shown the world what true character, grace and integrity really means. I am proud to call you friends and family.

Progress is the result living. Thanks for today and hope for tomorrow. I wish I had meet you during my six trips to Shoreline Park Baptist Church in Bay St. Louis for relief efforts. There was so much work to do and so few to do it. Our prayers are with all of those affected by the storm. When I come again I will try to find you and share a smile. In His Service. James

Congrats on your progress Mary.

I just wanted to say that we should remember New Orleans, just not forget the Gulf Coast. The man-made vs. natural disaster argument has merit when discussing how to move forward and rebuild, but to those who lost homes and loved ones, they are equally gone no matter what the cause.

Dear Mary, I was a responder to your area on Sept 1 helping with the FEMA disaster inspections. We drove in from Florida to make contact with as many folks as possible. You know the devastation first hand and I commend you for hanging tough. After being in tents and shuttling back and forth from Camp Shelby to Stennis to Waveland to Bay of StLouis and Gulfport, my lady and I were exhausted and on Dec 15th we had to retreat to our little trailer in Florida that was also damaged so that we could just cry and clear our minds. I cannot believe a year has past, it seems as though it was just yesterday. We want to help again but dont really know what to do. Unless you are in the middle of it you dont know whats going on when the news media no longer covers your story. I guess you can call us the crystal link in the government chain, citizens walking in the mud and debrise striving to get as much support to the people who need it. I would like to thank the Folkes Family of Covington County in Mississippi for allowing us to stay on their property, it made it possible for us to reach so many hurting people in the Hattiesburg and Seminary and Collins areas. Also the US Forestry Dept for safe and sanitary camp grounds and Camp Shelby who opened what doors were left and allowed us to stay in their barracks. We also want to thank the many many truckers who without their time and efforts and rigs we would not have had any life support items. Thank you one and all and remember the Marys who are still suffering.
God Bless you all.
Jack and Gale , Kissimmee Florida

I am glad to hear that you, Pokey and Freeway will have your new home soon. I remember when it all happened as we all do and thought how horrible it was for all of those affected. Cant even imagine the struggles. May God Bless you and continue to help you thru this.

I will be there tomorrow!!!My best friend lives down there and Ive seen first hand the hardships people went through and are going through. I was there 3 weeks after Katrina sleeping in what I discribe as "a landfill"and I have been back to see progress is coming along as far as cleanup. I will NEVER forget what happened. It was one of the worst things I have ever seen and I hope in time the Mississippi Coast will come back stronger because of it.

May God continue to strengthen you each and every day! This is my first time to view this site, but I truly hope you can put your life back together as best you can and I will continue to pray for everyone.

Mary, it's looking good! Soon you'll be in it, safe and sound. I love your dog's name - it reminds me of the book my grandchildren LOVE. And by chance, did you find the cat thrown out by the freeway? You seem to be the kind of person who would take in an animal in distress like that. BEST WISHES. You so deserve it.

Mary - its soooooooooo awesome to see and hear about the progress on your new home. It's so good to hear this good news!

But forget what Katrina did to you? Not me! My birthday is September 1, and I remember how the nation was reeling from Katrina last year. (How lucky am I...a birthday between Katrina and 9/11 anniversaries.) I will be thinking of you and your neighbors this Tuesday.

Mary--Your new house looks like it's going to be cute. Hope you can move in soon and that everything starts going better for you and yours!

As long as you still have the hard work of rebuilding and other recovery--which can take many years--I'll never forget you and everyone else in the storm zone who still has a long way to go before everything is O.K. I know everything won't O.K. for some time even though I must learn about what's going on in the storm zone from afar. I wonder why so many other Americans who don't live in Waveland, Bay St. Louis or elsewhere in the storm zone just don't seem to get it and seem to have forgotten the storm survivors.

With the twin anniversaries of Katrina and 9/11 approaching, there's something that troubles me, about which I'm curious:

Now that it's nearly 5 years after 9/11, no American, as far as I know, has complained that 9/11 is old news, we should get over it, and it's time to move on.

Why, then, have Americans--even as early as 3 months after Katrina hit--been complaining that Katrina is old news, we should get over it, and it's time to move on?

Mary, I am soooo happy to see the roof and framing in your house! I am also so grateful for your update. I hear that school is open and the new school year is getting off to a good start! Thank you for the window into Bay St. Louis. I am so proud about both the memorials and the celebrations. I have been praying for everyone and really wondering how you guys were going to handle the anniversary. I have to confess that I have privately been dreading it. Instead, I'm going to think of a way to do what you are doing and remember and give thanks way up here in Colorado. I'm going to send a note to my friends letting them know that I am thinking of them all and so proud of their courage! Thanks for the gentle lead.

P.S.: I am wondering what is happening on the bridge between BSL and the Pass. Any progress?

I know how you are feel i am for Metairie La and i loss me house and all of the kids thing like thair school thing and a lot more
brandy

Hi, Mary. Until today I did not know about this site and am so thrilled that I know you are there. Please forgive us who have seemed so unconcerned for your loss. My heart goes out to you all and I am very uplifted and encouraged by the faith, hope, and charity (love) that abounds in our Country. You home is going to be beautiful. It will surely be a HOME with Pokey barking when you have company and at night with Freeway and Pokey run around and around in their new house. I love to decorate and talk about new ideas so e-mail me. Congrats to the three of you and everyone one year later.

Hi, Mary. Until today I did not know about this site and am so thrilled that I know you are there. Please forgive us who have seemed so unconcerned for your loss. My heart goes out to you all and I am very uplifted and encouraged by the faith, hope, and charity (love) that abounds in our Country. Your home is going to be beautiful. It will surely be a HOME with Pokey barking when you have company and at night with Freeway and Pokey running around and around in their new house. I love to decorate and talk about new ideas, so e-mail me. Congrats to the three of you and everyone one year later.

It's great to hear that you will be in your home soon! That's awesome! We will never forget what happened and will always be in our prayers for the horrible situtation you all went through. God Bless You All!

Mary, I'm glad to see you will be moving in your new home soon. I was in my house in Ocean Springs, MS on that fateful day and I spent countless hours helping friends rebuild. I spent over eight years stationed at Naval Station Pascagoula and I consider Mississippi my second home. I'm proud of how the citizens in South Mississippi have responded with the cleanup and rebuliding process. The rest of the Nation should learn a lesson from the resolve demonstrated in the wake of Katrina. I will remember August 29, 2005 for as long as I live and never forget my good friends on the Gulf Coast.

i have only a saying for all the people who have troble in life and my grandfather tought me is do your best.that is all you need to do and make sure to help others in time of need and you will see what happens.me i know what a storm can do but rember you can not take it with you when you die.thank god that you are living still.you are being tested every day.god knows how much you can handle and what you can not.that is why you have friends and family to rely on.may be hrd at times but do your best.trust me it works.one more thing you can not do it by yourself ask for help.

Oh my goodness, on my end it's Gypsey and Morris....and Morris can whip da dogs a***!!!!

I will remember you all tomorrow. You are the most wonderful people I have ever met and you have touched my life forever. I am one "Yankee" who never paid much attention to Mississippi and after that horrible day, fate led me to BSL and the beautiful people of that area. We will not forget you and pray for your continued recovery and strength. God Bless You all...

Its sad to see the focus the national media puts on New Orleans without even a mention of the devastation in south Mississippi. Our church volunteered in Waveland helping to rebuild a house. We sent over 30 different people to the area over the course of 5 months and everyone of them came back a different person, myself included. The need in the area was still amazing when I volunteered in early December.

Your blog is so encouraging to see people moving on and recovering in the face of tremendous adversity. I can only imagine what you've been through. For those that have not taken the time to volunteer and help those in need. Do it! You will never regret the time you've spend helping other people who desperately need it. I wish I could find a way to get back and help some more. Mary, may God bless you in all that you do.

I can't believe that it has been a year since I left my home.I have been watching some of the Katrina specials and I am remembering the anger thet I felt a year ago when there was no news about Mississippi.It is one year later and everyone is still stuck on New Orleans. I love new Orleans ,too but that is only a small part of the story. People in MS also needed food and water and medical attention that was not available to them. Why does the media not think that their stories are just as important. I am so homesick that my heart is breaking .But the home that I long for is not there. My husband and I are doing the best that we can to start over. If it weren't for my babies I would be back home but it is too much with small children. How long will it be until this new place feels like home?

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