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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.

Map of Southeaster United States

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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Gulf Coast homeowners: Don't Call Henry

Of the dozens of building contractors punished by the state of Mississippi for preying on victims of Hurricane Katrina, one stands out from the crowd of mostly small-time, fly-by-night operators: Call Henry, a Florida-based firm with hundreds of employees that each year earns tens of millions of dollars from contracts with the Department of Defense, NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The company boasts on its Web site about its rosy prospects for new federal business. But at the same time, it has closed up shop in the hurricane zone and is ignoring customers there who say that their homes are falling apart after Call Henry repaired or rebuilt them. The state Attorney General's Office is considering launching a criminal investigation against the firm. And the company is appealing a $10,000 fine that the Mississippi State Board of Contractors levied after finding that Call Henry exhibited “gross negligence or misconduct” in its contracting business.

“They shafted people right and left,” said a sobbing Mary Bobbitt of Waveland, Miss., who hired Call Henry to fix her three-bedroom, one-bath ranch-style home after it was inundated by Katrina’s deadly flood tide. “They came in from Florida thinking they could make a whole bunch of money and then they left. They just left us.”

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Wave from Bush is reward enough for big fan - Comments 20 comments

Upbeat ceremony marks two-year anniversary - Comments 9 comments

Recovery leaves thousands in the dust - Comments 230 comments

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Gulf Coast homeowners: Don't Call Henry

Of the dozens of building contractors punished by the state of Mississippi for preying on victims of Hurricane Katrina, one stands out from the crowd of mostly small-time, fly-by-night operators: Call Henry, a Florida-based firm with hundreds of employees that...

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


Wave from Bush is reward enough for big fan

Donna Armstrong of Diamondhead may be President Bush's biggest fan in Hancock County, Miss. On Wednesday, she waited for more than an hour in blazing heat for a glimpse of the president's motorcade.

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


Upbeat ceremony marks two-year anniversary

In a ceremony marking the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, elected officials in Hancock County, Miss., praise the area’s emergency workers, volunteers and the “strong, resilient, self-reliant, caring people” of Mississippi.

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


Recovery leaves thousands in the dust

While many who were dealt blows by Hurricane Katrina are recovered, thousands of hurricane refugees are still living in FEMA trailers without the resources to regain the small shreds of independence they enjoyed before the storm. MSNBC.com's Mike Stuckey has their story.

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


At home in the house that Katrina built

At the end of a one-lane road just northwest of Waveland, Miss., stands a house that Katrina built, a literal gift of the hurricane's flood tide. MSNBC.com's Mike Stuckey reports.

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


Bringing back the bees

Leave it to an artist to come up with one of the most creative contributions to Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts. MSNBC.com's Mike Stuckey has the story.

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


Superstars in the Katrina volunteer trenches

Hundreds of thousands of volunteers have flocked to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, earning the undying gratitude of a community that was brought to its knees by Hurricane Katrina. MSNBC.com's Mike Stuckey profles one couple whose faith found a new outlet in the disaster zone.

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


Broadcaster struggles to stay on air

A Hurricane Katrina hero who runs a low-power FM station that broadcast search and rescue information during the storm says he’s running out of money to stay in business. MSNBC.com's Mike Stuckey has the story.

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


Sense of optimism takes seed

Two years after Hurricane Katrina decimated the coastal Mississippi communities of Bay St. Louis and Waveland, MSNBC.com's Mike Stuckey finds a new sense of optimism has taken seed.

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


Seeking swamp salvation

A brain condition added injury to devastation for Denny Holmberg. But new friends are trying to help him re-establish his swamp tour business. MSNBC.com's Mike Stuckey reports

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


Solitary figure in the cemetery

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.

Author: Dan Strieff, MSNBC.com


A (mostly) quiet New Year’s Eve

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

Author: Dan Strieff, MSNBC.com


Trying to beat the bulldozer

The Heritage Conservation Network is in a race against time on the Gulf Coast.

Author: Dan Strieff, MSNBC.com


A ‘great bump’ of historic proportions

"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.

Author: Dan Strieff, MSNBC.com


Fireworks! Get yer fireworks here!

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.

Author: Dan Strieff, MSNBC.com


Saving photos -- and memories

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

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


Swinging and sliding ahead

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.

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


A bright, clear Christmas on the gulf

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.

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


Twinkling trailers amid the debris

With Christmas nigh, Hancock County is taking a breather.

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


Season’s greetings from a hurricane zone

"I’ve never written one of these holiday letters before 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."

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


Ambitious plan for new homes

An ambitious plan to replace some of the thousands of homes lost to Hurricane Katrina is quickly taking shape on computer screens, drawing boards and back roads here in Hancock County.

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


Hospital is off life support

Like a patient coming out of major surgery, the hospital serving this and neighboring towns is slowly recovering.

Author: Miguel Llanos, MSNBC.com


From FEMA with love: A Christmas homecoming

Big Gil Bleau is home for the holidays and he and his family want you to know one thing for sure: “If it wasn’t for FEMA, I wouldn’t be here.”

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


Pricey rates for floating hotels

A FEMA contract to house Katrina evacuees on cruise ships, roundly blasted as exorbitant government spending, is currently costing U.S. taxpayers substantially more per person than some of its harshest critics estimated -- nearly $250 per person per night, according to figures obtained by MSNBC.com.

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


The lowdown on a Katrina icon

If pictures of the wholesale devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast are what the American public remembers most about this disaster, then the bright white, 35-foot aluminum breadbox known as a "FEMA trailer" is a close second for Katrina's most iconic image.

Author: Brock N. Meeks, MSNBC.com


Your tax dollars at work

From oak-lined Waveland Avenue to the quaint cottages of St. Charles Street in Bay St. Louis, the Katrina-wrought equivalents of the proverbial $600 toilet seat, courtesy of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, are everywhere to be seen.

Author: Mike Stuckey, MSNBC.com


'Slab' mortgages coming due

Marco Giardino is on the bubble. Hurricane Katrina left him with $1,525 monthly payments for a $400,000 home that is now little more than a shredded shell. "I'm thinking of walking away from it," he says.

Author: Brock N. Meeks, MSNBC.com


Unemployment Conundrum

At the Business Assistance Center, two rows of chairs set up in a makeshift waiting area sit empty.  Two employees of the Mississippi Department of Employment Services sit at a folding table that doubles as a desk, in front of a big "Employer's Assistance" sign, with only each other for company.

Author: Brock N. Meeks, MSNBC.com


Still chasing their dream

In a sense, Jose Luis and Maria Martinez created this situation themselves by moving to the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina with their four children, no place to stay and no job guarantee in pursuit of what so many want: The American Dream.

Author: Miguel Llanos, MSNBC.com


Many 'missing' don't want to be found

There are more than 6,600 people still missing as a result of Hurricane Katrina, according to the National Center for Missing Adults, a group working with the Justice Department on the issue. The missing are out there, somewhere. Alive or dead or … just plain gone with the wind.

Author: Brock N. Meeks, MSNBC.com


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