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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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Today was the opening of our new Parish Center.

It reminded me how far we have come in one year: I am back at my school, I have new braces and our house is coming back together.

I am also realizing that I remember only a few things about the weeks before the storm. The first two weeks of school last year, I only remember a few little moments.

So Katrina has taught me to be more observent. I am trying to remember everything now.

We have made progress too. People that left have come back and things are sort of normal again. We haven't forgotten, but we have moved on with our lives hoping nothing like this will ever happen again.

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11 COMMENTS

Dear Hannah,
How wonderful it was to see the progress in Bay St. Louis this past summer. So many spirited people working together to bring the town back to some sense of equilibrium. The parish of St. Rose deLima has been a center of inspiration for so many and a much needed resource in the reconstruction process. But most of all, St Rose has provided an ongoing spiritual opportunity for its parishioners and volunteer visitors to transcend the feelings associated with the losses created by Katrina: not just material losses, but the disassociation from familiar people and places that most of us take for granted. It wasn't until I returned home that I realized how much a familiar house, garden, or playgraound with children playing in it comforted me. It was then that I understood the real loss for the people of the area I call "Katrinaville": the loss of the familiar, the loss of wonderful reminders, that reassure us as we move through each day bustling from one errand to the next. But at least at St. Rose, even if for just an hour or so a week, one can forget and actually transcend the earthly burdens that would overwhelm even the most energetic and positive of souls. This is so evident in the members of your parish. You have all been such an inspiration to those of us who have been privileged to participate in your rebuilding efforts. What an honor it has been to be among you and to have experienced the spirit of such a warm and loving community.
For anyone who wishes to support St. Rose deLima: contact Fr. Sebastian at (228) 467-7347, 301 South Necaise Ave., Bay St. Louis, MS 39520.

We came down to south Louisiana after the hurricane to clean up and help rebuild. It was a bitter-sweet experience, and one I hope many don't have to experience. We hauled molded, rotting, spoilt messes from places, oh we were paid, but, the owners themselves admitted they wouldn't clean up the mess that had been left behind. Three months after I had been working there, I suffered two strokes, they have left me asphaysic, with limited mobility, and a mind that is no longer as productive as it once was. I came back here to my mountain air, and through determination and pride will rise back up to the woman I once was. Moldy air, sewage, and the terrible coast smell, was replaced with fresh air, sun shine and much determination. If I have recovered without any government help, surely, it is time that they do the same - you get helped most when you help yourself!

All of those who sent criticisms have absolutely no compassion and no heart. The ferocity and danger that comes from exposure to formadehyde is lifelong. I have no sympathy for those who criticized those who ARE suffering from these deplorable living conditions and YES anyone who has bought a travel trailer shuould seek and be entitled to restitution. I am aghast at the cold-bloodedness with which some of you have responded to this situation for these families who are inn this type of living situation by NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN. I'm certain it is lack of knowledge on your part since that is where ignorant comments such as yours' come from. Even if you do experience much the same in Florida? Shame on you...this was much worse than what had occurred in Florida. Maybe you need to elect a new Governor so that a State of Emergency would be declared earlier and sooner. How's the Red Cross and Army National Guard in your State? Do they become activated early when a Natural Disaster strikes? How is your Compassion and Humanity rating this week? Maybe it needs to be checked out and dusted off a little. Have you ever visited New Orleans? I have. Nothing but Levees. It is directly at Sea level. How is your Geography? Before you go out to judge others in time of their most desperate hour, try not to compare them to you. Try walking a mile in their moccasins. Look at the whole situations before you become too critical. There is a far greater judge than you yourselves. This was the worst that any human being could ever endure. Ever see pictures of dead bodies floating in front of rescue workers before? This is what that Hurricane produced.
Apathy, grief, fear, meanness of the human spirit, the absolute worst of human kind. It also has produced the best of the human spirit. Which do you want to represent?

We have adjusted to the "new" normal.
Things are not normal, we have learned to deal with what it is!

Hannah, I'm proud for the progress! Denise Craig you have confused the sh** outta me. There are no critisims here only hope and pride for Mississippians. This is not even a little about New Orleans.....IT'S ABOUT MISSISSIPPI!!!!!!

TO ALL;

MAY GOD BLESS U AND KEEP U SAFE. FOR ALL THE LIVES LOST I PRAY THAT THEY ARE HAPPY IN HEAVEN. LIFE IS SO PRECIOUS AND ITS A BLESSING THAT U ALL HAVE SURVIVED. I CAN ONLY IMAGINE WHAT U HAVE BEEN THROUGH AND EVEN STILL I KNOW MY THOUGHTS CAN'T COMPARE TO YOUR REALITY. SO I PRAY I PRAY FOR U ALL TO HAVE HAPPY LIVES; AND TO BE SAFE; AND TO BE HAPPY.

I just want to comment on some the negative things stated about we need to help ourselves. Well let me tell you alot of these people can't do anything to there damaged homes until FEMA and local governments have declared what the height elevations are, they are still waiting on insurance settlements and the grants that are being given to the flood victims. I am one of the victims who have lost my home but it wasn't the flood that took mine it was a Tornado. I am just able to start building a new home not because I didn't want to it is because I had to wait on SBA. So before throwing stones make sure you know the whole story. The people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast are more than ready and willing to rebuild and go back to somewhat of a normal life there is just red tape that has to be remeasured all too many times before most of us can rebuild. I would like to Thank everyone who has been down here to help all though I never needed it you have done a GREAT JOB and there is a special place in HEAVEN for each of you.

Anyone can find fault. You don't even need to know a thing about the subject. I've made six trips to Bay St. Louis each time left with mixed enotions. Reguardless, help is given, or should be out of love and to meet a need. I feel a deep concern for all that have been effected. There is more work and needs than resourses to meet them. I have to travel about 500 miles each way at my own ezpense. I was able to work thru Shoreline Park Baptist Church (*check web-site)and stay at their site. The second trip my 85 year old mother went and helped cook. (also fixed a squirl stew-georgia wild game) I later carried 6 colledge students to work. Keep up your spirits and remember that life offers so much and so many friends are found. Some will do nothing others do what they can. Planning another trip soon with supplies to help where ever I can. More care than you know. May God bless.

I visited the Mississippi Gulf Coast on Hwy 90 when I drove from Florida back to Baton Rouge in May. I was so shocked by the devastation and how it appeared that the hurricane(s) had just happened! I just had no realization until I saw for myself. We see and know about New Orleans from TV and because I live in Baton Rouge. But I was so shocked by the coast between Biloxi and the LA border that I started crying. And people, I'm talking 9 months after. I grew up on the Gulf Coast traveling from Texas to Florida every summer as a child because my mother and 12 siblings are from Pensacola. I grieve for what's been lost: the big old homes, churches, trees, etc. It was such a beautiful drive once. In Pass Christian I saw wealthy families and moderate families living similar lives in mobile homes. (except the wealthy have 2 mobile homes, maybe, and a boat) Some, but few, I could see were rebuilding. Churches are holding services in big tents. Walmart and McDonalds remain empty shells. Oak trees and limbs rise out of the surf along the beaches. Hwy 90 comes to a dead stop because the sand covers the highway. I believe New Orleans is recovering faster than Mississippi from what I've seen. So, I really feel for Mississippi. As a single woman with 2 jobs, I cannot come and help, but I can surely pray. And I pray the Lord sends more able-bodied people to help you. I also pray for a reprieve this year from more hurricanes. Keep your chins up and keep working toward restoration of your beautiful Gulf Coast!

Kelli Callender, I think it is wonderful that you are recovering. However, how you can say what you do after being in that "terrible coast stench" is beyond me. You obviously had somewhere to go back to, a place with fresh air and sunshine. Most of the people who are along the coast fighting to rebuild their lives do not have that luxury. Some of them are getting sick from the mold and stench, but cannot afford to leave and recover. I think your pride is misplaced. It's great that you are recovering, but do not put down others and put yourself above them. You are not in their situation and cannot know what they are going through. I am an outsider also, but have friends in the Waveland area. They are working hard to put their lives back together, so don't talk about "those who help themselves" when you have no idea of what they are going through. Have some compassion and get off your high horse!

That "terrible coast stench" to me is a wonderful smell. It tells me I'm at the Gulf!....Thank you.

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