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

Exporting art to Minnesota

Posted: Thursday, April 6 at 04:49 pm CT by


Thanks to volunteers around the nation, members of the Hancock County arts community are able to show their work far and wide. (Photo by Joe Tomasovsky)

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, The ARTS in Hancock County has been active in revitalizing the local arts community by locating resources for artists and venues to sell artwork. Thanks to Artisan/Santa Fe, a huge donation of art supplies enabled local artists to get back to work.

After a successful opening at the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., the next venue for showing and selling work is Minnesota.


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Housing market slowly stirs

Posted: Thursday, April 6 at 01:13 pm CT by

The aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina are still reverberating across the Gulf Coast real estate market, creating mini-booms in areas that were spared the worst damage and slowing sales to a crawl in the hardest-hit communities.

Mississippi's coastal Hancock County is a microcosm of what's going on throughout the region, with much of the sales activity shifting toward Diamondhead, a town 15 miles north of the Gulf that was left in relatively good shape. "The residential land prices in the north end of the county, above the Interstate, probably will have doubled in the last six months," said the county's Chancery Clerk Tim Kellar. "That is the result of folks leaving the south end and going north."


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Seven months after

Posted: Wednesday, April 5 at 01:21 pm CT by

For a reporter returning to southern Mississippi after four months away, signs of progress are clearly evident. But seven months after Hurricane Katrina flattened much of Bay St. Louis and Waveland, the pace of reconstruction is maddeningly slow and frustrating to many residents.

It will be many years before life returns to normal in these two small cities on the Gulf Coast, but the steady process of rebuilding should mean hundreds of more housing units will be available over the next year.


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How you can help

Posted: Tuesday, April 4 at 07:55 pm CT by

The people of Bay St. Louis and Waveland still need help rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina, and there are several options to contribute:

SOS4EDUCATION is engaged in an ongoing fundraising effort to help rebuild, revive and refurbish the Bay St. Louis - Waveland School District. Details on how to help are available on the group's Web site or be e-mail at [email protected]

The non-profit Gulf Coast Community Foundation, which has been serving south Mississippi since 1989, is raising money for a range of relief efforts, including rebuilding businesses, bringing back the arts and directly helping affected families.

Habitat for Humanity is increasingly active in the area, with plans to build 10 homes by the anniversary of Katrina on Aug. 29 and more than 100 homes overall, according to Wendy McDonald, Hancock County project manager. To donate or inquire about volunteering, contact the Jackson, Miss., branch of the charity at http://www.habitatjackson.org/.

The Hancock County Library System is working to rebuild after two of its four branches were destroyed by Katrina. The library system is accepting financial contributions but not books, since it has no storage space. The system's public affairs and development officer, Mary Perkins, is chronicling her personal recovery as an MSNBC.com citizen diarist.

The only radio station in the area is operated by the non-profit Hancock County Amateur Radio Association. Operators Brice Phillips and Christine Stach have kept the station on the air 24 hours a day since the storm, operating under a special emergency license that they are desperately trying to keep.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation
c/o Hancock Chamber
412 Highway 90, Suite 6
Bay St. Louis, MS 39520

Habitat for Humanity/Metro Jackson
1260 Ellis Ave.
P. O. Box 55634
Jackson, MS 39296-5634

The Library Foundation of Hancock County
312 Highway 90
Bay St. Louis, MS 39520

Hancock County Amateur Radio Association
P.O. Box 1145
Kiln, MS 39556

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A home amid devastation

Posted: Tuesday, April 4 at 05:14 pm CT by

Jeff and Rose Watts are urban pioneers of the post-Katrina era. Less than seven months after the killer storm wiped their Waveland Avenue neighborhood off the face of the Earth, they became the first residents to rebuild and move back into a new home amid the devastation.

Gazing off the front porch of their cozy three-bedroom cottage, just a few hundred yards from the green Gulf of Mexico, Jeff Watts can see acres of broken brown pine trees, empty concrete slabs and barren lots littered with debris.


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Trying to remember 'normal'

Posted: Monday, April 3 at 11:02 am CT by

In one way Pete and Betty Benvenutti’s house in Bay St. Louis will be even better than it was before Hurricane Katrina. With trees and homes flattened for hundreds of yards around them, they will have a water view in two directions when they move into the rebuilt three-room cottage taking shape on their property.

When we first met the Benvenuttis in November, they were watching workers in heavy machinery tear down the historic part of their century-old house a few hundred yards from the Gulf of Mexico, leaving only the skeleton of a 1960s-era back wing that barely seemed worth saving.


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Wind vs. water, revisited

Posted: Sunday, April 2 at 09:01 pm CT by

LAKESHORE, Miss. -- A lot of people believe their homes were destroyed by tornadoes generated by Hurricane Katrina rather than the storm's killer surge, but John Trowbridge makes a more compelling case than most.

Trowbridge's modest two-story home near Waveland was demolished along with two neighboring homes while other houses of the same style and age in the neighborhood remained standing, despite taking about 8 feet of water. That led virtually every insurance adjuster and engineer who inspected the scene to conclude that a tornado touched down and caused the devastation, Trowbridge and his attorney say.


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If you teach a man to build ...

Posted: Sunday, April 2 at 09:00 pm CT by

KILN, Miss. -- On a cool spring night in southern Mississippi, five middle-aged men lean over a 16-foot board on sawhorses, learning how to properly cut wood and possibly reassemble their lives.

Mark Forest, 47, lost pretty much everything in Hurricane Katrina, including his home and his job as a casino dealer.


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A tree of hope

Posted: Sunday, April 2 at 09:00 pm CT by

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. -- A pile of sand marks the spot where Woody Santa Cruz’s family home of two generations stood before Hurricane Katrina. A tattered American flag, salvaged by his grandchildren from the debris, flies from a basketball hoop in what was the backyard. As with many destroyed homes in the region, the intact front steps are an eerie reminder of the beachfront Bay St. Louis home that was. But in front of it all, a centuries-old live oak tree stands like a sentinel of the past, slowly sprouting back to life, and Santa Cruz is there to help it along.


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All cooped up and nowhere to go

Posted: Sunday, April 2 at 09:00 pm CT by

WAVELAND, Miss. -- Shirley Corr fled Hurricane Katrina's rising waters seven months ago, escaping with her life. While that terrifying memory fades, it has been replaced by a nagging fear that her life, and her community will never recover.

Her situation is far from the most dire that Katrina wrought. While the storm surge flattened most of her neighbors' homes in the low-lying area near the beach in Waveland, it left the shell of her home standing.


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