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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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Steve and I are wondering whether his art show this Saturday evening will go on. Should he hang the show? Should I buy the hors d’oeuvres? Will anyone come, or will they all be packing and/or leaving? Should we reschedule it?

We haven’t needed to evacuate since Katrina. A few times, we’ve thought we would need to leave, but fickle weather patterns kept us in place. Not until Gustav have we seriously begun to hold our collective breath and pack our collective belongings.

Evacuations before Katrina were usually made with reasonable concern and mild anxiety. Now, tensions are running high and many folks can’t help but fear the worst. Odds are against another Katrina, we know this. But we’re watching for the slightest tremor in the forecast track.

On Wednesday we became nervous. People began asking each other, “Are you leaving? Where are you going? When are you going?” Hurried phone calls to hotels revealed that Vicksburg was already booked up and the closest available room was in Philadelphia, Miss. Rumors that Jim Cantore had checked into a hotel in Biloxi lightened the mood momentarily. (Cantore is the Storm Stud; the Hurricane Hunk; the guy we don’t want anywhere near us.)

We are guessing when evacuations might be ordered — earlier, this time? One friend says he will not wait. He and his family had to swim out of their house last time, and won’t do that again. Another friend is worried about her corn fields, which she lost in Katrina, and her racehorse, which is in Breaux Bridge, and will have to be moved as well. My father phoned to check on our plans, and mentioned that he will be moving his boats, trailers, tractors and tools to a relative’s property north of the interstate. This will be no small feat. Evacuation is a lot of work when you have time to plan for it correctly.

Personally, I am wondering what to take this time. I’ve just recently begun to feel reasonably equipped for everyday living, having reacquired the sundries of a household over the past three years. Oh well, that’s just stuff. Losing those things is a hassle, but isn’t horrible. Again we gather the pictures and personal mementos. We are taking many of our musical instruments to higher ground north of the interstate. They can’t all go with us, but we can at least give them a fighting chance. I am puzzling over how to evacuate our new cat, which is an outdoor cat and doesn’t get along with our elderly indoor cats. We can’t just leave her. So I will hopefully be able to buy a new cat carrier and I pray that all three will fit in our car and that the little darlings won’t harass each other on our way to wherever we go. What we do with them when we get there, I will think about later.

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Heather-- I send thoughts and prayers your way, as well as that of your neigbors, friends and family. We certainly hope your communities will not be challenged again so soon, but are glad to hear there are preparations being made to ensure your safety. Good luck with the cats, too--they'll be fine as long as they're safe with their owners!

If Gustav does hit the LA coast,(I pray that it doesn't)I sincerely wish the best for those in it's
path and pray that the US government will send aid
quickly. Whether or not they do is a serious question,
and I don't wish anyone to hold their breath until it
does.May GOD bless all!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm a student in Mobile, and I feel your pain. I'm originally from Nashville, so to go home is a long ways for me, but no one really knows what to do because no one knows where it's going to hit.

My prayers are with you.

Heather, I feel your pain and anguish. I just finished boarding up my house in Metairie, LA. Wondering if I will have to ride this one out at work, as I did for Katrina. Where will my family go? To what extent will my home be damaged this time? Will I have the time to do the repairs again????
May Mother Nature have pity on our tired souls, and spare us repeat devestation......

Heather, Steve and all my friends and family on the Coast - my plans were to be on the Coast this weekend. Now, I have to sit and wait to see whether the storm will come my direction - Houston - or stay east and affect your area. Definitely, my area can handle it better than yours soley from the standpoint that we have not been faced with a 3-year rebuilding. My prayers are with everyone along the Coast. May God bless us all and keep us safe.

Honestly, people need some common sense, we are praying and hope all are out of harms way. As far as New Orleans, I have no sympathy (just as well for the people that build houses at harm's way in the coast ridge in Calofornia.) Why even allow building under sea level? is there any inteligence left? there should be a total abandonment on this futile project, water and wind are too powerful, and nature is unpredictable. God forbid any serious destuction happens again but if it does, I hope some someone will have the courage to desist and move on to beter grounds, for heavens sake, What a waste of human life and resources!

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