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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.

Background on the towns and this project is available under the about tab above.

Click here for bios of the reporters and media producers who have worked on the series.

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It is a time of transition for Bay St. Louis, Waveland and Hancock County, and for Rising from Ruin as well.

A year after Hurricane Katrina pulverized this formerly idyllic corner of Mississippi, the cleanup of debris is finally slowing and the towns and county are moving full throttle into the rebuilding phase.

That obviously isn’t the end of the story of recovery from the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, but it has prompted us to adjust our coverage to be positioned to see this tale through to the end, which is clearly years away.

Instead of monthly reports, we will visit the area periodically to report on milestones and challenges in the rebuilding process, document the halting steps toward normalcy, and more important, tell the stories of the people who each day display uncommon valor in the face of tremendous adversity.

Between our reports, many of our citizen diarists have promised to continue posting about life in the disaster zone, and our bloggers, many of whom live in the area, will help keep readers abreast of developments.

In the months since our first visit to Bay St. Louis and Waveland in early October, we have seen much and met many people – as the 214 staff-written stories in Rising from Ruin attest – and been touched by the stories we have heard. We look forward to sharing more of those stories with our readers in the months and years to come.

Read the first post on the situation in the towns in October 2005.

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I have had reason to visit the coast several times in the past year and each time am amazed with the progress that has been made and the determination of the citizens and officials. A friend on the coast says he uses my reaction as a barometer of their progress because it is sometimes hard to see any progress when you are in it every day and keep your head down working. Considering the tremendous amount of damage, I am impressed that people aren't still just sitting in a corner crying and shaking. These are some amazing folks. Things certainly aren't perfect as nothing will be as long as human beings are involved, but if anyone ever needed a reason NOT to be ashamed to be from Mississippi, the reaction of Gulf Coast citizens to Katrina would be it. Everyone is grateful for the help that has come from around the country and the world. For those of you not in the state, spread the word that help and attention are still needed and will forever be appreciated.

John Wilkerson: Such a moving post. I was saddened to read how the storm had hastened your father's passing. I'd read before how many ailing older people had found themselves becoming sicker and then dying after Katrina because of the strain of going through the storm and perhaps evacuating, but what you said made it far more personal. And thanks for mentioning your website. I hope many more people view the photos there. They are striking, and if anyone doubts that Bay St. Louis is still a long way from becoming whole, they should take a look at them.

Everybody: It makes my blood boil how the government will give money away overseas as if it were Mardi Gras beads but disaster survivors over here can only obtain loans. I wish there were some sort of recourse for Americans who've been through disasters, lost everything, and would have no way to pay back a loan (like the elderly John mentioned) to get "free" money--after all, they've paid taxes into the system all their lives, so the money wouldn't really be "free," but more like an insurance settlement.

Bear with me for taking an excursion into politics, but with Election Day Tuesday I hope new members are voted into Congress and the Senate who will push the Bush Administration to be pro-active regarding getting Mississippi's Gulf Coast, New Orleans, and the rest of Louisiana's storm-ravaged parishes back on their feet. Not to mention providing aid to people who need help rebuilding and not just making loans.

The problem is, the mainstream media has not been helpful in this regard. Even though Katrina's aftermath and how the Bush Administration has been bungling it ought to be a major campaign issue right up there with Iraq and the economy, no mention has been made of where candidates stand on this issue. News which would show the damage that still exists in Mississippi and Louisiana has been censored by corporate-run news outlets because they have a vested interest in keeping pro-business members of the GOP in their House and Senate seats. And showing pictures similar to John's or Jack's which show the devastation that still exists as a consequence of Bush Administration neglect would definitely not help the GOP's cause.

If it were up to me I'd say vote Democratic because I imagine that most members of that party probably would be more pro-active on Katrina recovery, make it a high priority, and hopefully would have the courage to stand up to President Bush. But I worry that because of the lack of information in the media for people who care about this issue it could turn out to be a case of "Meet the new boss....same as the old boss..." regarding post-Katrina issues.

Speaking of "Meet the new boss...." did you know that a few weeks ago when President Bush signed the Homeland Security Act that contained a provision that the new head of FEMA have had previous experience with disasters? In a "signing statement," Bush rejected this. Which leaves him free to name another unqualified crony to run FEMA.

Perhaps post-Katrina issues are being ignored by the mainstream media and not considered campaign issues because they're considered to be local, only of interest in Mississippi, Louisiana, and maybe a few neighboring states. Nothing could be further from the truth--this is really a NATIONAL issue. Because the lessons that should have been learned from Katrina would apply in future disasters (or, in the "new normal," terrorist attacks), which can occur in any part of this country, anytime. Wouldn't you want to be confident that, were God forbid such a disaster would strike where you live, your government would handle its aftermath and rebuilding competently?

No bad storms this season, Rebuild Mississippi!

The President has his faults just like we all do but for crying out loud go after the theives that have stole the money that so many of us have given. STOP BLAMING ONE MAN for all the problems and give some of the blame to your governors and mayors and those in leadership for not being responsible. PS. Seven of us are going to help you Jan 15th if the Lord willing. We have not forgotten you that are in need.

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