Rising From the Ruins, Part 2

By: Leonard Horton
By: Leonard Horton

It has been a year since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast and many people are still recovering, trying to get their lives back to normal.

A lot of the debris has been cleared and businesses reopened, but many of the city's
6,000-plus residents are still in trailers and planning their next move.

Bay St. Louis Mississippi is often referred to as "a place apart." Before Katrina, many of this beach community's residents called Bay Saint Louis paradise. Now, it's more like paradise lost.

Just 30 miles west of Biloxi, the city of Bay St. Louis is one of the hardest hit areas from Katrina. Mayor Eddie Favre has faith this city and its residents will return.

"A few people have decided to move on, but for the most part everybody else has decided to stay or either come back once they are able to. It will be Bay St. Louis again," said Favre.

Mike Robertson has been a realtor in Bay St. Louis for six years. He's seen how some neighborhoods are coming back, while others remain piles of rubble.

"Some neighborhoods haven't come back to where they were, not even the first house," explained Robertson, who says as a silver lining to the aftermath, local and state officials cut a lot of red tape when it came to bringing in outside contractors to begin the much needed repair work.

"Right after the storm the Building Inspection Department of Bay St. Louis immediately started issuing permits for people to put back what they had without cost or anything," added Robertson.

In Hancock County alone, an estimated 11,000 homes were destroyed and another 4,000 suffered major damage.

Tish Williams, Director of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce, says it's multi-million dollar rebuilding process, but through it all she says many hearts and hands are pumping life into this community and they are reaching from beyond the county lines.

"The family and community is larger than the Mississippi coast. It's a country that has come together for one common goal to help people. It's people helping people," said Williams.

As of August 1 of this year, 38,000 FEMA trailers and mobile homes have been distributed to displaced families in Mississippi.


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