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

'Daily dispatches' is an ongoing blog of observations by MSNBC.com journalists working on locations in Waveland / Bay St. Louis

Solitary figure in the cemetery

Posted: Sunday, January 1 at 03:55 pm CT by Dan Strieff

WAVELAND, Miss. – A lone man wielding a chainsaw in a fog-shrouded cemetery is enough to make anyone do a double-take.

But for J.E. Loiacano, a former high school and Mississippi State football coach who has owned the Gardens of Memory Cemetery in Waveland for two decades, cutting off stray branches in whatever the weather throws at him is strictly routine.

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A (mostly) quiet New Year’s Eve

Posted: Sunday, January 1 at 04:30 am CT by Dan Strieff

WAVELAND, Miss. – Hoping for a smoother 2006, the devastated Gulf Coast towns of Bay St. Louis and Waveland quietly welcomed in the New Year.

As a dense, cooling fog crept in from the Gulf, most residents appeared to stay in their houses and trailers or celebrated outside the area, with only an occasional muffled boom from fireworks to be heard.

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Trying to beat the bulldozer

Posted: Saturday, December 31 at 07:50 pm CT by Dan Strieff

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. – The Heritage Conservation Network is in a race against time on the Gulf Coast.

The nonprofit organization is seeking to preserve as many materials as possible from significant homes in Hancock County that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, including columns, doors, woodwork and flooring, in hopes that they can be recycled in the new structures that rise from the rubble.

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A ‘great bump’ of historic proportions

Posted: Friday, December 30 at 05:38 pm CT by Dan Strieff

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. -- “It’s another of our great bumps,” is how Charles Gray, director of the Hancock County Historical Society, describes Hurricane Katrina’s horrific impact on Bay St. Louis, Waveland and the surrounding Mississippi Gulf Coast.

"Bump" though it may turn out to be, Katrina dealt a devastating blow to the Gulf Coast's rich architectural history, and much of Gray's time is now devoted photographically documenting the losses among the 576 homes in Hancock County that were on the National Registry of Historical Places prior to Katrina. To do that, he often has to turn to landmarks in order to identify the slabs of concrete where the grand homes once stood.

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Fireworks! Get yer fireworks here!

Posted: Thursday, December 29 at 09:51 am CT by Dan Strieff

HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. -- If you feel the urge to buy Artillery Shells, Warhawk Missiles, B-29 Bombers or even an 8-Shot Hurricane at 3 a.m., you need look no further than “Crazy Carl’s” fireworks stand off Highway 90.

Despite the fact that both Bay St. Louis and Waveland have banned fireworks sales and use this year, fearing the possibility of a conflagration starting in the debris of Hurricane Katrina, "Crazy Carl's" has found a legal niche by getting a permit to set up shop on a slice of county land near the border between the two cities.

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Saving photos -- and memories

Posted: Tuesday, December 27 at 09:06 am CT by Mike Stuckey

WAVELAND, Miss. –- Despite the brave comments of some Katrina survivors that material possessions can be replaced, some of them cannot.

Near the top of that list are photographs -- snapshots of family vacations, graduation portraits, wedding albums, the priceless images that bring back past times both sweet and sad.

A bin at the entrance to the Wal-Mart here shows that one group plans to do what it can to help restore some of those losses. Shoppers are invited to bring and drop off whatever photos they have found amid the rubble.

CONTINUED »

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Swinging and sliding ahead

Posted: Monday, December 26 at 06:10 pm CT by Mike Stuckey

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. -- Among the many signs that this town will return to better times in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is a shiny new playground in the heart of downtown.

The colorful facility, which sports four swings, a triple-wide slide, tiny teahouse, high-tech zip line and sand box, was bought to town by Kaboom!, a non-profit group that focuses on helping communities build playgrounds throughout the United States.

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A bright, clear Christmas on the gulf

Posted: Sunday, December 25 at 08:10 pm CT by Mike Stuckey

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. -- Christmas came clear and sunny across this hurricane zone, a glorious Gulf Coast day for Katrina’s survivors to draw together in their houses of worship and around their dinner tables to count their blessings.

With the horror of the storm now nearly four months behind them and signs of rebirth all around, it was a day for family and friends, football and feasting. From FEMA trailers to living rooms that never took a drop of water, there were loved ones to hug, gifts to unwrap and stories to share.

CONTINUED »

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Twinkling trailers amid the debris

Posted: Saturday, December 24 at 09:28 pm CT by Mike Stuckey

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. – With Christmas nigh, Hancock County is taking a breather.

On the eve of the big day, there’s very little traffic or action on the countless construction jobs. Even the normally packed Wal-Mart and Waffle House are only sparsely populated. Locals are huddling with friends and families in whatever shelter they have, and crews of workers have left the area for the holiday. It is, after all, a Saturday.

Making a bright appearance throughout Waveland and Bay St. Louis, however, are numerous homes, businesses and, yes, FEMA trailers, that their occupants found the time and spirit to decorate despite the demands of post-Katrina life.

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Season’s greetings from a hurricane zone

Posted: Saturday, December 24 at 11:17 am CT by Mike Stuckey

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. –- Dear Friends and Family:

I’ve never written one of these holiday letters before (don’t they all begin with that disclaimer?) so it’s a bit hard to begin. And awkward, seeing as how I have some confessions that I didn’t think I’d make while still working as a journalist.

But after two trips to this ravaged region, I want to tell you what I’ve seen, what I’ve really seen, and how it has touched me in ways that covering no other story has. So indulge me if you will for a few hundred words on this eve of one of the holiest days on most calendars in this part of the world.

CONTINUED »

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ARCHIVES

January 16, 2006 - January 22, 2006
January 9, 2006 - January 15, 2006
January 2, 2006 - January 8, 2006
December 26, 2005 - January 1, 2006
December 19, 2005 - December 25, 2005
December 12, 2005 - December 18, 2005
December 5, 2005 - December 11, 2005
November 28, 2005 - December 4, 2005
November 21, 2005 - November 27, 2005
November 14, 2005 - November 20, 2005
November 7, 2005 - November 13, 2005
October 31, 2005 - November 6, 2005
October 24, 2005 - October 30, 2005
October 17, 2005 - October 23, 2005

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