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Most Current News is at NEWS Page
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Posted on Wed, Nov. 30, 2005
BEFORE AND AFTER
Point Marine Lumber on Henderson Point
Ren Barnes, her husband Charlie and their son Bill Price remember walking through Katrina-ravaged Pass Christian in early September.
"So much was gone and people were poking in rubble with that startled, deer-in-the-headlights look. We felt we just needed to be there for them," recalls Ren Barnes.
When October rolled around, the ravaged family business, Point Marine Lumber Co., was open, restocked and operating out of a temporary trailer.
To get to the Henderson Point site on West Bayview Street at U.S. 90, customers still have to go the back way - Menge Avenue to North Street to the checkpoint on Bayview. The location is like an island, because bridges on both sides of it are out of commission.
"I know how everybody is talking about having to wait to get things rebuilt, but if the house was still standing, they needed plywood and they needed somewhere to get it," Barnes said.
"I cannot tell you the number of people who came by and just thanked us for being open and bringing life into the community. We got the business two years ago and we're keeping it a locally owned and operated business. We're home folk, not trying to be the big box."
A lumber yard on that site was first opened in 1969 by the Coggins family, who wanted to help the Coast rebuild after Hurricane Camille.
Following in the same tradition, Point Marine Lumber opened a second business in Diamondhead after Katrina.
- KAT BERGERON
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Posted on Wed, Nov. 30, 2005
New Urbanists back for town halls
By DAVID TORTORANO
BILOXI - New Urbanists who met here in October to redesign 11 hurricane-ravaged communities are back for a three-day gathering that includes five town meetings tonight.
Five more town meetings are set for Thursday.
"We want people and elected officials in all the towns to have a chance to look at these final proposals in their fullest form," said Will Longwitz, spokesman for the Governor's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal.
"We want them to be able to ask questions, to really dig into these proposals and see what they like, what they don't like, what they will implement and how to get them done," Longwitz said.
At the Imperial Palace, Mississippi Renewal Forum workshops will be held Thursday and Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. for local officials and invited guests, including developers and casino operators.
Thursday's workshop is for Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Biloxi and Ocean Springs. Friday's is for Waveland, Pascagoula, Moss Point, Gautier and Gulfport. D'Iberville officials also will attend, though the town meeting will be scheduled at a later date.
In the workshops, participants will get a chance to catch up on the design teams' reports. There will also be presentations by FEMA mapping officials and by state officials about financial matters.
Participation of developers is considered key.
"This is the first time they've heard the whole pitch. It's important that they buy into it," said Ben Brown, a media specialist for the Congress for the New Urbanism. He said private dollars will be rebuilding South Mississippi.
The event this week is a follow-up to the Mississippi Renewal Forum held in October at the Isle of Capri. More than 150 New Urbanists from across the nation - led by internationally known new urbanist Andres Duany - met for six days to brainstorm with local representatives on designs for 11 cities.
The forum was followed by a series of town meetings at various locations to begin showing the designs to local communities and to get feedback.
The forum is part of a broader initiative by the Governor's Commission, headed by philanthropist Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape. That initiative is funded by Barksdale and the Knight Foundation.
The final design report for the 11 communities will be part of the broader plan to rebuild South Mississippi that will be presented to the governor in December.
This week's meeting marks the end of the New Urbanists work here as a group, though many may wind up working directly with some communities. Many of the same New Urbanists will return in March for a three-day smart code workshop.
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Posted on Thu, Dec. 01, 2005
A postcard view with its own code
The black and white photograph of the Mexican Gulf Hotel - an image familiar to anyone who knows Pass Christian history - flashed on the screen and Laura Hall posed the question: "What if you had this as a condominium instead of high-rise towers?"
The large, late-1800s hotel burned down long ago but is not forgotten, so interesting was its architecture. At her question, heads nodded in the standing-room-only crowd of 300-plus Wednesday night.
Then Hall, the California New Urbanist leading the Renewal Forum team for this socially and economically mixed town of 6,500, showed a turn-of-the-20th-century postcard that captured an alluring downtown Pass with trees and quaint store fronts with living spaces.
"What is it that you would like to see today if you are going to send a postcard of Pass Christian around the world?" she asked. "When you redesign your city, you think how to pose the next postcard view...and then you code for it."
Knowing this was the first time many had heard the team's vision for their town - 80 percent destroyed or damaged by Katrina - Hall explained the concept of SmartCode, which considers open spaces, walkability, businesses and urban-suburban areas that are connected and offers developers and property owners easier tools for redevelopment.
Because much of the Pass is impacted by new FEMA flood zones, Hall said Forum leaders are asking for "performance-based standards," so that living in the Pass will not be like "living in bird houses."
"Know that this is the big issue," Hall said, "and that we have some high-powered people working on it."
KAT BERGERON
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Posted on Tue, Nov. 29, 2005
South Mississippi awarded $12 million in aid
Mississippi counties will receive about $12 million in federal grants for rebuilding the storm-ravaged area, U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., announced Monday.
Hancock, Harrison, Simpson and Jackson counties will receive funding to rebuild structures, utilities and to clear debris.
Pass Christian Middle School will receive $3.5 million to rebuild two buildings that will house the cafeteria, band hall, and the science and computer facilities.
Bay St. Louis will receive $1.2 million to rebuild the Jimmy Rutherford Fishing Pier and Simpson County will receive the same amount for debris removal.
The West Jackson County Utility District will be awarded $2 million to install control panels and rebuild pump stations and parts of the sewage system.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Watershed County Utility District will be granted $2.6 million to restore public utilities.
, particularly at the water treatment plant in Moss Point. Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Wastewater will receive $1.5 million to restore the treatment facilities in Gautier.
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Posted on Sun, Nov. 27, 2005
Scenic Drive in Pass Christian - KAT BERGERON
Scenic Drive was a step back in time. The elevated street in Pass Christian parallels U.S. 90 and the ancient oaks that line it were green glitter on the beautiful homes, gardens and waterfront views that made Scenic Drive a polished Mississippi Coast emerald.
Some of the 85 houses on this two-mile stretch were built before the Civil War; others date from the turn of the 20th century. All, no matter size, became the stuff of home and architectural magazines. Scenic Drive is one of three sites in the United States designated as a national historic street.
Reports the National Trust for Historic Preservation: "Scenic Drive remains the largest architecturally intact major 19th century resort area in the South and one of only a few... that have managed to retain most of their original character."
That was before Hurricane Katrina, which ate high bluffs that separated the drive from U.S. 90 and destroyed many beachfront houses and businesses. The east end seems to have fared better, and that's where businessman Dave Dennis, wife Jane and two college-age children live.
They returned Monday after repairs. It's not the Scenic Drive they are used to but the family remains upbeat, having counted about 12 livable houses and another 10 to 15 that are repairable.
The Dennises were asked, as a family, what brings them back to Scenic Drive: "The historic nature of the houses and the attitudes and willingness of the owners to share the ambiance and history with others on the historic house tours makes Scenic Drive very special.
"Scenic Drive appears to be rebounding significantly on the east end, and downtown has great expectations of rebuilding and renewal with the announcement that St. Paul Catholic Church will rebuild. The people on Scenic Drive who still have structures that are savable are working to the best of their abilities. We choose the optimistic approach."
In June 2000, Mrs. Mississippi United States 2000 Gilda Seymour of Ocean Springs ran along Scenic Drive in Pass Christian during the Batten's Walk fundraiser.
Many oak trees along Scenic Drive still stand after Hurricane Katrina, though only time will tell how many will survive the salt and wind.
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Posted on Sun, Nov. 27, 2005
Follow-ups on city design meetings set
By DAVID TORTORANO dtortorano@sunherald.com
Residents have an opportunity to talk to design-team leaders and public officials about rebuilding this week during town meetings Wednesday and Thursday.
Key participants in last month's Mississippi Renewal Forum - a nearly weeklong event at the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel where new designs for 11 cities were developed - will return for a three-day workshop/seminar at the Imperial Palace in Biloxi.
The workshop will be held in conjunction with 10 town meetings in communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Only D'Iberville's meeting has not been scheduled.
The first set of town meetings will be Wednesday between 6:30 and 9 p.m. in Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Biloxi and Ocean Springs.
That's followed on Thursday from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. by a seminar at the Imperial Palace for public officials and invited guests from Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Biloxi and Ocean Springs.
On Thursday evening from 6:30 to 9 p.m., there will be town meetings for Waveland, Pascagoula, Moss Point, Gautier and Gulfport.
That's followed on Friday by the second seminar, from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., for officials and invited guests from Waveland, Pascagoula, Moss Point, Gautier and Gulfport.
During the seminars - both days will have identical sessions - town officials will get a chance to catch up on the design teams' reports. There will also be presentations by FEMA mapping officials and by state officials about financial matters. Developers also have been invited to attend the seminars.
In October, more than 150 New Urbanists from across the nation met for six days at the Isle of Capri to brainstorm with local representatives to create designs for 11 cities devastated by Katrina.
After the six-day Mississippi Renewal Forum, a town meeting series was launched to begin showing the designs to local communities.
The forum is part of a broader initiative by the Governor's Commission on Rebuilding, Recovery and Renewal headed by philanthropist Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape. That initiative is funded by Barksdale and the Knight Foundation.
The final design report for the 11 communities will be part of the broader plan to rebuild South Mississippi that will be presented to the governor in December.
Town meetings
Wednesday, 6:30 to 9 p.m., Bay St. Louis (Waveland Middle School cafeteria); Pass Christian (Pass Christian Gospel Singers of America); Long Beach (Long Beach High School gymnasium); Biloxi (Imperial Palace); and Ocean Springs (Ocean Springs Civic Center)
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Posted on Tue, Nov. 22, 2005
Study to look at social ties, rebounding from Katrina
By DAVID TORTORANO dtortorano@sunherald.com
University researchers are gearing up for a study to determine the importance of social ties in helping people rebound from Hurricane Katrina.
The University of Mississippi was awarded the $96,000 grant by the National Science Foundation. It's among 30 grants awarded for studies related to Hurricane Katrina.
The study is designed to find out if members of social networks - such as a church group - fare better in the recovery process. It will also try to find out if membership in groups post-Katrina helps.
David Swanson, chairman of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and director of the Center for Population Studies at the University of Mississippi, said he believes the researchers will find membership beneficial.
"If it looks like that helps, we can start to develop low-cost initiatives to get people involved, perhaps in neighborhood groups," he said.
One idea: create groups similar to the crime-related neighborhood watch, only in this case it would be a "neighborhood disaster watch."
The study will focus on Waveland, Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian, but researchers hope to have enough funding to also include Long Beach.
Swanson said there will be 16 to 20 people in the field doing the surveys. They will come from Ole Miss, Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi, as well as people identified by the South Mississippi Regional Planning Authority.
They'll begin training in early January and start collecting data the same month. Plans are to finish no later than Jan. 14. Preliminary findings will be presented in February at the annual meeting of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences. But it will take several more months for a full-scale analysis, said Swanson.
"Like most research, this will answer some questions and bring up more that needs to be addressed," he said.
He said that, like the census bureau, the researchers place a high priority on privacy and data confidentiality.
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Thanksgiving Feast attended by Fr. Carver and Curries.
http://www.dailynewstranscript.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=67445
Time to rebuild
By Geoff Mosher / Daily News Staff
Monday, November 21, 2005
WALPOLE -- One community was nearly wiped out by a Category 5 hurricane that slammed into the Gulf Coast 12 weeks ago.

The other is still feeling the aftershocks of a clergy sexual abuse scandal that erupted five years ago in Boston.

As the 2005 Advent season approaches, the thread that has bound together Catholics from St. Paul parish in Pass Christian, Miss., and Blessed Sacrament Church in Walpole is the need to rebuild, a priest from the Gulf Coast town of 5,000 people told the parishioners here.

The relationship between these two parishes 1,500 miles apart was consecrated yesterday in Walpole, as the Rev. Dennis Carver of St. Paul Church presided over morning Mass.

In the afternoon, Carver and a couple from his church who lost their home were honored during a feast in the Blessed Sacrament elementary school gymnasium off Diamond Street.

The feast marked the beginning of a fund-raiser to help St. Paul rebuild its parish and Blessed Sacrament to renew its faith. The idea for the "renewal project" came from a Walpole men's prayer group which formed, in part, to discuss the clergy abuse scandal and the controversial round of church closings that followed.

Blessed Sacrament is asking members of its parish to donate $250 per family for the relief of St. Paul. At yesterday's feast, residents were able to donate money to the cause, and they can also expect a mailing for their donation, said prayer group member Dan Kelly.

Near the end of the feast, Laura Curry of Pass Christian thanked her Walpole hosts. Curry and her husband, Jim, lost their 1920s home that sat on a bluff overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. They now refer to themselves as "slabbers," meaning all that's left of their home is the concrete slab upon which it was built and a set of stairs leading nowhere.

"We may have lost our home, but we haven't lost our family," she said.

The Pass Christian Currys and others returned to what resembled the Japanese city of Hiroshima after U.S. forces dropped an atomic bomb on it, Carver said during the 11 a.m. Mass yesterday.
The town, Carver said, lost approximately 80 percent of its buildings, including St. Paul parish's elementary school, rectory and seven other buildings. The church, which had been rebuilt after Hurricane Camille in 1969 to withstand future storms, survived the 140-mph winds but sustained heavy wall and floor damage from the two-story-high wave that followed the storm.

About 70 percent of Pass Christian's residents have been displaced. The streets are the only areas that have been cleared of debris. There is no water, sewer or phone service. And six days ago, a local woman's body was discovered two miles from her home under a large pile of debris, Carver said.

During the Mass, Carver drew parallels between Katrina and the priest abuse scandal, which he called a "Category 5 scandal."

"I think you know what it is like to go through a storm," he said. "I think both of our churches' hope has been decimated."

For that reason, the two parishes, Carver said, are in a unique position to help each other rebuild.

"I think that we can help you just as much as you can help us," said Carver, who recalled being in Boston when the scandal broke.

The Rev. Tim Kelleher of Blessed Sacrament agreed. Kelleher told the parochial school gymnasium crowd that when he and 14 members of Blessed Sacrament visited Pass Christian on Oct. 23, they were moved by the faith and vision of the St. Paul parishioners with whom they celebrated Mass in their shell of a church.

The moment was captured in a seven-minute digital video Walpole's Rey Spadoni and Gerry Nelson created and played yesterday during the feast.

The video shows a standing-room only crowd of worshipers singing the spiritual "This Little Light of Mine." It cuts to a shot of a group of Walpole children handing out cards and bracelets to people their age from Pass Christian. Kelleher then presents a San Damiano cross to Carver symbolizing the renewal project.

"We, like you, are trying to rebuild," Carver says. He hugs Kelleher as the worshipers erupt in applause.

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Posted on Mon, Nov. 21, 2005
Marine touted for hurricane heroism
By MICHAEL NEWSOM
GULFPORT - Last week, the Air Force changed command, the Seabees hosted a Salute to the Military and a Marine was honored for rescuing nearly 200 hurricane victims.
Staff Sgt. Jerod P. Murphy, 29, of the 4th Amphibious Assault Battalion based in Gulfport, led a team of about five, including one Seabee, and "rolled out" to Point Cadet in two Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAVs) and saved about 130 people, including infants, just a few hours after Hurricane Katrina subsided. On the second day, Murphy and others pulled about 70 into the AAVs at Henderson Point in Pass Christian.
The work earned Murphy the Thomas V. Fredian Community Service Award at the 27th annual Salute to the Military Tuesday night at the Seabee base.
"I am extremely honored," Murphy said. "From my understanding, I don't think a Marine has ever won. I was extremely honored to be the one to bring it home for us. There are a lot of Marines out there that do just as much as me."
As for his work during the storm, Murphy said the Marines were believed to be the first military branch to leave shelters.
"It was worse than anything we can imagine," Murphy said. "Everybody was still locked down. From what I understand, we were the first DoD assets in action."
In addition to his rescue efforts, Murphy also coached soccer, football and taught Marine Corps martial arts with his sons' instructor in Long Beach. Murphy was awarded a Purple Heart after being shot in the left elbow while fighting in the Iraq war in March 2003, near the town of el Shatra. He was the first Mississippian wounded in that war.
Murphy was honored at the Salute, which the Seabees helped the Coast Chamber put on by letting them use a large Army Reserve warehouse on base. The warehouse was converted into a ballroom with large camouflage netting on the walls.
Seabees - While the work to convert the warehouse into a ballroom was ongoing, the Seabees finished the last of a set of modular houses to be used by base personnel and their families who had damage or lost their home to Hurricane Katrina. They were also installing modular buildings to be used as classrooms, a galley and a child-care center.
Air Force - Keesler Air Force Base changed command last week. Brig Gen. Paul F. Capasso took the reins of Keesler Air Force Base on Tuesday and said he was thrilled to be back for his third tour. Capasso succeeded Brig. Gen. William Lord, who was promoted to major general and took a job at the Pentagon.
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Posted on Sun, Nov. 20, 2005
A people of the sea --- Katrina took away Coast Vietnamese's life, work
By JOSHUA NORMAN – jdnorman@sunherald.com
A Vietnamese folk legend says in ancient times, the sea dragon Lac Long Quan married the mountain fairy Au Co and she gave birth to 100 children. Half of the children went with their mother back to the mountains, and half stayed to live off the sea. From these 100 children came the Vietnamese people. The 50 children who stayed with their father became fishermen. Thus those who make their living off the sea have an honored status in Vietnamese society.
The sea rose and took away much from the Vietnamese community along the Gulf Coast during Hurricane Katrina.
In response, a collective of fishermen called the An Giang Fisheries Association from the Mekong Delta in Vietnam gathered $15,000 and gave it to the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi to distribute among their brethren here, reported the Thanh Nien Daily, one of Vietnam's largest newspapers.
Though it was a small amount compared to the devastation - for the 10,000 or so Vietnamese in South Mississippi, the hurricane ruined their principal occupations of shrimping and hospitality as well as their neighborhoods - it was a huge gesture from one of the world's poorest and last communist countries.
"The concern is that one of our own is suffering, starving in a foreign land," said Tuyet A.N. Tran, a community advocate and founder of New York-based viettouch.com, a Vietnamese cultural Web site. "Many in the Vietnamese diaspora have relatives in Vietnam still."
The Vietnamese community spread throughout America also was eager to help after the storm, said Huy Vu Bui, president of the National Alliance of Vietnamese American Service Agencies. The perception in the community here and abroad was that not enough was being done for a group of people who largely did not speak English and kept to their own.
That perception led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from the Vietnamese government, American businesspeople and community organizations.
Interviews with dozens of Vietnamese living in South Mississippi did not reveal the same sense of abandonment by government that many in the outside community felt.
"They didn't do much for anyone," said Thuy Tran, 25, a manicurist in Gulfport who grew up in Pass Christian.
She said she did not feel the Vietnamese were ignored any much worse than anyone else and many Vietnamese spoken to in the last month agreed.
According to many of the interviewees, Vietnamese translators appeared in South Mississippi a little more than a month after the storm for agencies such agencies as FEMA and the Red Cross, while the Coast Guard had translators almost immediately after the storm to help in rescuing the many Vietnamese stranded on fishing boats.
The Rev. Dong Phan of the Biloxi Vietnamese Martyrs Church said finding comfort in community has been crucial since the storm. More than 70 percent of Vietnamese in South Mississippi are Catholic, and his church, one of several Vietnamese Catholic churches in South Mississippi, has been a cradle of the local community, providing spiritual guidance and a place to gather every day since the storm.
"There has been a lot of suffering," said Phan, a former chaplain in the South Vietnamese Army. He said he has been eager to get people together to help in the healing.
Just up the road from Phan's church at the Van Duc Buddhist Temple, the monks Thien Tri and Minh Nguyen have been trying to provide a sense of normalcy for their constituents.
The monks estimate only 30 percent of the local community is Buddhist, but said 80 percent in Vietnam are Buddhist. The monks hold daily meditation sessions and are especially able to empathize with their community - they rode out the storm in their temple's attic.
Nguyen said every monk is allowed four possessions: three sets of robes and one bowl. Everything else must be donated by followers because Buddhist monks vow a life of poverty by tradition. Nguyen said all he has left now are the robes on his back.
The sense of loss is overwhelming in the Vietnamese community and it goes well beyond material possessions.
Thuy Tran's parents lost everything to the storm. Her father, Thin Tran, 58, was a shrimper who stayed on his boat in hopes of saving it but barely escaped with his life. Now, like the hundreds of older Vietnamese shrimpers who know nothing other than shrimping and cannot afford a new boat because of a lack of insurance and an already-dismal shrimping season, Thin Tran does not know what he can do.
Thuy Tran lost her old job at the Wal-Mart in Waveland and now lives in her overcrowded apartment with several homeless relatives, like most Vietnamese in South Mississippi.
The sudden loss of housing and jobs - a vast majority of Vietnamese either worked in the seafood industry or in a casino-related job - has sent at least 25 percent of their population elsewhere in America looking for work, said several Vietnamese interviewed.
Hai Tran, no relation to Thuy, was a welder in Mobile who lived with his three children, his wife, his parents, his brother and his sister on Division Street in Biloxi before the storm. His house was leveled by the flood water and he now lives with just his mother, wife and kids because his father and siblings have gone from New York to California in search of jobs.
"I lost everything I got," Hai Tran said, adding he is grateful to have a FEMA trailer to live in. "I don't have money to rebuild my house. I applied for an SBA loan. I stay here for my family."
South Mississippi's pleasant climate and ties to the sea are what keep many Vietnamese here. While the sea took so much away, many said there is much that it can give back and that is their hope for the future.
Vietnamese diet
Vietnamese have a very different diet than Americans. Their food is largely vegetarian and consists mostly of soups and stews, as well as large amounts of rice and fish.
After the storm, many of the older Vietnamese struggled to digest the MREs and hot meals given out by the Red Cross and Salvation Army.
In response to the problem, the American Red Cross and other local relief organizations provided the Vietnamese community with two bulk deliveries of foodstuffs that were more in line with their needs. The items included fresh produce, tofu, ginger root, Vietnamese basil, bok choy, coconut milk, fish sauce, soy sauce, Vietnamese rice and seasonings.
- AMERICAN RED CROSS, COMMUNITY LEADERS
Vietnamese population
Most local aid agencies and community groups estimate there are 10,000 Vietnamese in South Mississippi, most here legally. Vietnamese represent the largest Asian ethnic group in South Mississippi.
• In Harrison County, there were 4,934 Asians, or 2.6 percent of the total population in 2000.
• In Jackson County, there were 2,102 Asians, or 1.6 percent of the total population in 2000.
• In Hancock County, there were 386 Asians, or 0.9 percent of the total population in 2000.
• In Biloxi, there were 1,489 Vietnamese people in 2000. Their median household income was around $25,000, compared with the citywide average of more than $34,100.
Most Vietnamese live in neighborhoods near harbors where shrimp boats can dock, such as Point Cadet in Biloxi, Bayview Street in Pass Christian and Lakewood in Hancock County. Unfortunately, these are also low-lying areas, which is why so many lost their homes to the storm.
- U.S. CENSUS BUREAU, COMMUNITY LEADERS
Vietnamese language
Vietnamese is spoken by more than 60 million people in Vietnam.
There are also more than a million additional speakers of Vietnamese scattered across the globe, including 500,000 in the United States.
Vietnamese is a member of the Mon-Khmer branch of the Austro-Asiatic language family. Other Mon-Khmer languages include Mon, which is spoken in Burma; Khmer, which is spoken in Cambodia; and Muong, which is also spoken in Vietnam. The language that developed into Vietnamese probably originated in the area of the Red River, which is in modern-day northern Vietnam.
Originally, Vietnamese used a character-based writing system that was similar to Chinese. However, in 1910, a romanized script that had been devised by Catholic missionaries in the 17th Century was adopted as the official Vietnamese alphabet. This writing system is still in use.
The Vietnamese alphabet consists of 17 consonants and 12 vowels. Vietnamese is a tonal language, meaning the tone or pitch used when a word is pronounced helps determine its meaning. There are six distinct tones in Vietnamese: the level tone, the high-rising tone, the low-falling tone, the low-rising tone, the high-rising broken tone, and the low-broken tone.
Many second-generation Vietnamese in America speak little or no Vietnamese, especially when living outside of a Vietnamese community. However, several Vietnamese who were raised in Biloxi said they are fluent because there were so many people to communicate with.
- TRANSPARENT.COM, COMMUNITY LEADERS
Vietnam's Boat People
A vast majority of the Vietnamese in America immigrated here between 1975 and 1980. The immigrants were almost all Southern Vietnamese fleeing the Communist takeover.
Many were the famous "boat people."
After the Vietnam War, more than one million refugees desperate to get out of the country took to overcrowded and leaky fishing boats and set out into the seas around Southeast Asia. It became the largest mass departure of asylum seekers by sea in modern history.
In many cases, parents still in Vietnam used life savings to put a child on a boat departing the coast of their homeland. Their plan was for the child (typically a son) to win refugee status in another country, a status that would be the anchor for the rest of the family following.
Some got lucky and were granted visas to a wide array of countries from Bermuda to Australia to Iceland, but many were forced to drift for years from one deserted spot to the next. Legends of piracy and cannibalism abounded.
Many also ended up in detention camps throughout Southeast Asia for years before either returning to Vietnam or getting asylum in a western country.
America took in the largest number of boat people during the early years. The final numbers of Vietnamese who stayed during this time varies, but at one point in the late 1970s, America was taking in 14,000 boat people a month.
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Posted Friday, Nov 18
Gulf Coast casinos outline plans for rebuilding
BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — Representatives for most of the state's battered Gulf Coast casinos outlined their plans for rebuilding before the Mississippi Gaming Commission on Thursday.
Hurricane Katrina, which struck Aug. 29, damaged or destroyed most of the 12 coast casinos and a 13th that was about to open.
Like many of the casino representatives in attendance, Bernie Burkholder, the chief executive and president of Treasure Bay Casino, credited the new onshore gambling law for giving the industry a better chance of bouncing back after the storm. The law allows Gulf Coast casinos to move off the water and build a short distance inland.
"I, for one, was getting really tired of chasing my boat down after every storm, dragging it back to its moorings and gluing it back in place," he said, prompting laughter from the crowd of about 200 that gathered for the meeting at the Imperial Palace, the least damaged of the Gulf casinos.
Treasure Bay plans to build a two-story, 70,000-square foot structure on the south portion of its existing hotel tower, Burkholder said. Renovations will likely begin by March, and will take about six months, he said.
Imperial Palace plans to reopen Dec. 20, said general manager Jon Lucas. The gambling areas will be expanded and all 1,088 guest rooms renovated, he said.
The Beau Rivage will rebuild in the same location, said Bruce Nourse, the casino's director of public affairs. The planned opening date is Aug. 29, 2006 — the one year anniversary of Katrina.
Other casino executives said they plan to move their facilities to new locations.
Both Boomtown Biloxi and Casino Magic in Bay St. Louis were severely damaged during the storm and will move into temporary facilities, said Len DeAngelo, executive vice president of operations for the casinos' parent company, Penn National Gaming Inc.
Boomtown, a barge facility, has limited surrounding land, and therefore does not have the ability to immediately relocate to a shore-based operation, DeAngelo said.
The company plans to refurbish the existing barge and move it to an adjacent property, where it is expected to open within six months. The company eventually hopes to move the casino to a land-based facility in the Biloxi area, he said.
Plans for a temporary Casino Magic structure are still pending, but the facility will likely be operational within nine months, DeAngelo said. Its golf course is expected to open in mid-December, which DeAngelo said should give a welcome boost to the local economy.
The state Gaming Commission has said the coast casinos generated $500,000 a day in state and local taxes before Katrina.
Executives of the President Casino, whose gambling barge was washed a half-mile down the beach during the storm and ended up on land, took a gamble after the storm that the onshore gaming bill would pass and immediately began working on a shore-based facility, said Paul Alanis, chief executive officer of Silver Slipper, the casino's new owner.
The 95,000-square foot facility will have 1,000 new coinless slot machines, 26 game tables and a 350-seat buffet. Construction is slated to begin next month and the facility is expected to open within the year, he said.
There were no representatives at the meeting for Casino Magic in Biloxi or Harrah's Entertainment, which owns the Grand Casino barges in Gulfport and Biloxi.
The commission on Thursday also approved site plans for the proposed Emerald Star Casino near Natchez, expected to open Nov. 30 2006.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Posted on Fri, Nov. 18, 2005
Vision for Coast is nothing short of paradise
By DAVID BRUSSAT --- THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL
If a plan for rebuilding Mississippi's Gulf Coast envisioned by the Congress for the New Urbanism ever becomes reality, the place will be nothing short of paradise.
I wish I could just fill this space with sketches from the charrette, or brainstorming session, held Oct. 12-18 in Biloxi, at the invitation of Gov. Haley Barbour. Eleven cities and towns along 80 devastated miles of coastline each got a set of plans for rebuilding from the CNU architects and planners led by Miami-based New Urbanist guru Andres Duany.
They imagined a Gulf Coast as it might be - as indeed it would have been - without modern architecture, planning and sprawl. Hurricane Katrina demolished all too many historic buildings, but most of what the bulldozers will clear away was already junk. "We're not picking up after Katrina," says Elizabeth Moule, of the Biloxi team, "we're helping this town recover from the hurricane of the last 50 years."
She and her fellow New Urbanists say Mississippians should rebuild not what they lost to the hurricane recently but what they lost to modern design and planning long ago. Mississippi must rebuild in a way that almost every architecture critic in America may be expected to condemn as "inauthentic," "copying the past" or "pure Disney fakery."
The last is from The Chicago Tribune's architecture critic, Blair Kamin, who couldn't resist that jab in a generally positive critique. Kamin, for whom such jabs are typical, wrote that the charrette's results were "immediately trashed from afar by modernists, who painted them as sentimental traditionalists." He admitted that "Chicagoans familiar with (Daniel) Burnham's classically inspired civic parks and infrastructure... should recognize that argument for what it is: ideological cant."
As an example of "Disney fakery," Kamin cited a replacement Wal-Mart for Pass Christian, designed by Ben Pentreath. You wouldn't recognize it as a Wal-Mart, but top Wal-Mart execs seem willing.
Modest neighborhoods could be swiftly rebuilt with temporary housing, such as the 294-square-foot bungalow designed by Marianne Casuto, so alluring that it might later be added on to and made permanent.
Casinos in Biloxi would not be segregated on the waterfront, but integrated into the streetscape - and what a streetscape! Monte Carlo, anyone?
With the sort of openness modernists rarely indulge, the New Urbanists invited their rivals to the charrette. But the work they contributed was curious. A good example of this is a sketch of one building with an up-tilting roof that seems designed to be blown off in a hurricane.
Typical. The up-tilting roof is a modernist cliche, intended to thumb its nose at traditional gabled roofs. But embracing novelty as a design principle leads inevitably to absurdity. The New Urbanists avoid this by embracing the best practices handed down by centuries of architecture. The resulting buildings and communities are not only more attractive but also more practical than almost all American places built with modernist design and planning.
For half a century, aware that most Americans hold modern architecture in contempt, modernists have sought to avoid defending their work on its merits.
For example, they pulled strings to freeze traditionalists out of the design competition to rebuild the World Trade Center. The result will be a huge "Kick Me" sign on the Manhattan skyline.
In contrast, the Mississippi charrette offers not just a great way to rebuild the Gulf Coast after Katrina; it offers all Americans a chance to re-acquaint themselves with what they have lost: the beautiful cities and towns that modernism everywhere has managed to destroy, starting half a century ago.
Andres Duany often points out that the historic districts Americans love to visit are nothing but typical neighborhoods built before World War II, before the modernists took over. Prince Charles has observed that modernism did more damage to Britain than the Luftwaffe. I would say that Hurricane Katrina, for all the death and suffering it caused, should be viewed as a dark cloud with a silver lining, a blessing in disguise, an invitation to a new beginning.
Like Charles in Britain, Duany and the CNU are inviting Americans back to the future.
In short, the Congress for the New Urbanism should really be called the Congress for the Old Urbanism. Whatever. It holds its 14th annual meeting in Providence, R.I., next June 1-4 (www.cnu.org). By then, I hope, not only Mississippi but America will have embraced the wisdom of last month's charrette.
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Posted on Thu, Nov. 17, 2005
Pass awaits guidelines, and permits are delayed
By JOSHUA NORMAN
jdnorman@sunherald.com
PASS CHRISTIAN - The road to rebuilding in Pass Christian is a long one.
Residents were told Wednesday night during a City Council meeting that it would take at least another week before guidelines for rebuilding could be properly ironed out, let alone have a system in place that would allow homeowners to apply for a permit to rebuild.
More than 200 people crowded into the Gospel Singers of America Hall to hear the Board of Alderman vote unanimously to delay a vote on the issuance of building permits at least another week while they waited for FEMA's flood elevation guidelines to be released.
Peggy Johnston, Pass Christian's building code officer, said only 27 permits for repairs have been issued to date in a city that lost at least 80 percent of its residences to Hurricane Katrina's wind and surge. A home can be no more than 50 percent destroyed for such a permit to be issued.
Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm Jones said it was prudent to get the permit process done now instead of having to amend it later.
The issue of rebuilding in Pass Christian is complicated beyond codes and guidelines because so much debris still remains to be removed from public and private property.
The Army Corps of Engineers, which is administering the city's debris removal contract, has not gone onto a single private property to remove debris, nor has it demolished any unsalvageable homes.
The two major roadblocks toward demolishing heavily damaged homes are the Environmental Protection Agency, which requires asbestos inspections, and the Historical Society, which requires that historically significant homes be inspected.
These inspections are not required in all cases, though.
"If your house is a debris pile, this is not a problem," said Jones, which drew a laugh from the crowd. "Debris on the ground is not historically significant, either."
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Posted on Thu, Nov. 17, 2005
Housing is key issue for panel --- Commission exploring options
By DAVID TORTORANO dtortorano@sunherald.com
Making affordable housing available as soon as possible has become a key issue for the Governor's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal.
Chairman Jim Barksdale and other members of the Governor's Commission, created in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, held a briefing Wednesday to provide an update on the effort to rebuild South Mississippi.
The commission was formed to oversee a range of issues involved in the rebuilding of devastated South Mississippi. As a part of that effort, nine committees were formed to focus on everything from infrastructure to tourism. A tenth panel - affordable housing - was added last week.
Barksdale said Wednesday housing is enough of an issue that the new panel will focus on affordable, safe housing. It's headed by John Walton, president of Whitney Bank in Mississippi, and Fred Carl of Viking Range Corp.
Barksdale said the largest industry in the state of Mississippi is getting ready to blossom in the next 12 to 24 months - housing.
"We're going to build 50,000 units. That's more than they build in Houston, Texas, in a year, that's more than they're building in the central part of Arizona in a year. That's huge for an area that normally gets 1,500," he said.
But in the short term the problem is a severe shortage of all types of housing. Barksdale said the solution is trailers. There are 18,500 now installed, but 85 percent are on existing lots. What's slowing the process is sewerage.
Barksdale said the reports from the New Urbanists who met in Biloxi last month will be available this week and next. They will be fine-tuned after additional meetings, and the final report of the Governor's Commission - which will include all of the issues explored by the committees - will be released at the end of December.
Only about 10 to 15 percent of the final Governor's Commission report will involve the infrastructure issue. The rest of the report will focus on the findings of the other committees, including rebuilding the "ravaged" education system, the $6 billion defense and contract industry and a discussion of ways to fund the rebuilding.
The infrastructure committee has received most of the publicity, in part because of the nearly weeklong forum held in Biloxi Oct. 11-17.
More than 150 New Urbanists met with local counterparts to generate designs for the 11 cities pounded by the hurricane.
Since then there has been a series of town hall meetings to get public feedback. From Nov. 20 through Dec. 2 there will be one more gathering of key New Urbanists at the Imperial Palace in Biloxi.
"The major focus of the next six weeks is going to be on implementation. How do you take these ideas and make them happen?" Barksdale said. "I think the sellable ideas are going to sell, but that still doesn't mean they're going to be implemented. You don't have a great track record in that regard."
Barksdale said there were commissions after Hurricane Camille and other disasters, as well as recommendations. But "after each of these, it tended to sort of drift away."
He doesn't want that to happen this time.
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Posted on Wed, Nov. 16, 2005
Bay's troubled waters
MDOT wants merchant's land for bridge
By RYAN LaFONTAINE
rlafontaine@sunherald.com
BAY ST. LOUIS - The Mississippi Department of Transportation expects construction of a new bridge over the Bay of St. Louis to take 12 to 18 months to complete.
But when construction will begin is still anyone's guess.
Along with building the new span, MDOT wants to change the curve just before the bridge on the Pass Christian side.
The proposed modification puts U.S. 90 running through the middle of Penny Rodrique's property, on which the 43-year-old Pass native has owned and operated a fireworks business for more than two decades. The building was destroyed by Katrina's storm surge, and Rodrique was planning to rebuild, saying she'd seen a steady rise in profits over the last few years.
"MDOT is wiping out what's left of my business, and they don't care," Rodrique said.
Wayne Brown, the Southern District commissioner for MDOT, said the agency was working on a deal to buy the property from Rodrique. But Rodrique said the state has taken possession.
Rodrique and her husband, Larry, told the Sun Herald that MDOT filed court papers seeking eminent domain on Oct. 27, with a court date scheduled for March. Then on Nov. 2, MDOT filed right-of-immediate-possession papers, which supersedes eminent domain. Brown said he was unaware court papers had been filed.
The move, also known as a quick take, was signed by a judge on Nov. 12, the Rodriques said. MDOT can take possession five days after that date, they said.
According to an informational booklet from MDOT, a quick take is used when immediate title and entry are necessary.
"In some cases, it may be necessary for the department to gain immediate title and entry into your property before the eminent domain trial. If so, the right-of-immediate-possession law requires the court to appoint an appraiser for the court. The department will then deposit 85 percent of the court-appointed appraisal or 100 percent of the fair market value. This will give the department immediate possession of the property."
Rodrique would not say how much MDOT's offer was worth, but she said a developer offered her $83,000 more, in 1994, than MDOT offered. She noted the 1994 offer was made before she added a 4,000-square foot building for her business on the property.
Sometime this week, MDOT is expected to secure the legal title to the property, Rodrique said.
In order to afford a new bridge, federal funding stipulations would require MDOT to build an 85-foot high-rise and widen the bridge to add emergency lanes.
Rodrique said many residents would normally oppose such a plan, but because most of the homes in the Pass were leveled by the Aug. 29 hurricane, no one is around to speak out.
"I have not agreed to this. I've never wanted to sell my property to MDOT," she said. "It's amazing that in the United States of America, these things can happen to you and you have no recourse."
Aside from its battle for the fireworks business, MDOT faces financial challenges in financing the two U.S. 90 bridge projects.
MDOT has spent nearly $100 million removing debris and repairing parts of Interstate 10, but the agency has received only about $5 million in federal funds.
Brown told a congressional committee last month that rebuilding the Bay St. Louis bridge would cost about $200 million.
The state hopes to receive 100 percent of the federal funding, plus another $200 million to reunite Biloxi and Ocean Springs.
"We are up against the wall, and in desperate need of funding," Brown told the Sun Herald this week.
Three engineering firms are expected to submit proposals for the work sometime next month.
Brown said the three firms are designing a new bridge using a list of requirements from MDOT: The plans must be for a high-rise bridge and include just four traffic lanes, and smaller emergency lanes along each side.
Some residents have voiced their chagrin about a high-rise bridge across the bay, but Brown said there's no other alternative.
"If we are going to build a new bridge, it has to be a high-rise," he said. "The government is not going to give us money to build something that we would have to rebuild again later."
Brown said the old drawbridge was worn out, and fixing it is not practical. A high-rise would mean the state would no longer need to pay for an operator to staff the bridge 24 hours a day.
Based on meetings with local leaders, state officials have made a few minor changes to the bridge proposal, a plan Brown called "attractive and safe."
"There will be less accidents and less fatalities on the new bridge," he said. "That's something that I'm very, very proud of."
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Walpole Church to launch Katrina fund-raiser
By Geoff Mosher / Daily News Staff
Monday, November 14, 2005
WALPOLE -- The Blessed Sacrament Church will fete members of a Mississippi parish devastated by Hurricane Katrina on Sunday during a feast to mark the start of a local fund-raising effort to help the Gulf Coast Catholics rebuild.

After Sunday morning Masses, the East Street parish will hold a potluck feast for its flock at noon in the gymnasium of its elementary school. The guests of honor will be the Rev. Dennis Carver of St. Paul parish in Pass Christian, Miss., a town of 6,000 that lost its Catholic Church's rectory and elementary school and more than two-thirds of its homes. Carver will be joined by two parishioners who lost everything.

Blessed Sacrament Church has adopted St. Paul parish and its school, which serve 900 families and 160 students in preschool through grade 6.

"We're not professional fund-raisers; we're simply appealing to the parish and hoping they respond," said Walpole's Dan Kelly, who came up with the idea to adopt a Gulf Coast parish, yesterday.

Through the Internet, Kelly got in touch with the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi, which then assigned Blessed Sacrament to St. Paul. Kelly and other parishioners felt they could do more if they focused on a specific community.

On Oct. 22, a 14-person delegation from Walpole traveled to Pass Christian to meet Carver and his parishioners, pray together, tour the town and assess the church's needs. The delegation was led by the Rev. Tim Kelleher of Walpole and arrived in Pass Christian on Oct. 23.

"It was literally like it had been bombed during a world war," said Kelly, who added the town was surrounded by barbed wire fences and National Guard outposts.

Walpole's Rey Spadoni, who took photographs for the delegation, said the devastation was overwhelming. "The magnitude of the destruction is more than you can really comprehend when you're looking at it," said Spadoni.

Hurricane Camille in 1969 destroyed St. Paul's original clapboard church, which had been built in 1874. The church was rebuilt to withstand hurricane-force winds.
When Katrina hit, the building's frame didn't buckle but its brick walls were no match for the towering storm surge, which left gaping holes in the sides of building through which a car could pass.

Despite its wide swath of destruction, the storm was curiously selective. It gutted the interior of the church but spared a statue of Jesus on the cross that hangs from the ceiling on two thin wires and a surrounding set of stained-glass windows depicting the Stations of the Cross.

"With all the destruction, to see those items untouched was amazing," Spadoni said. "It seemed as though...they should have been destroyed."

On the Sunday the delegation arrived in Pass Christian, a standing-room only Mass was held in the shell of the church, where rows of lawn chairs had been set up in place of pews.

At the end of the Mass, Kelleher presented the parish with a San Damiano cross symbolizing the need to rebuild.

"I was amazed that in all the people that I spoke to, none of them spoke with any type of negativity," Keller wrote in an essay on the church's Web site.

"Many of them were what they called 'slabbers,' meaning...all that was left of their home was the slab on which it was built."
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Posted on Tue, Nov. 15, 2005
BEFORE AND AFTER
The Blue Rose in Pass Christian
The Blue Rose, an 1848 home built in Pass Christian, opened in 1990 as a fine dining restaurant and enjoyed a run of popularity for diners as well as families celebrating special occasions.
The Blue Rose closed in 1998, partly because the Coast trend had moved to casual dining and partly because Philip LaGrange needed to care for an aging parent.
Then a year ago, LaGrange reopened the Blue Rose, this time with weekend dining and with a bed and breakfast. LaGrange thought he'd found his niche and loved being a part of historic Pass Christian's sense of place. Then came Hurricane Katrina.
"The upstairs is as we left it, with beds made and things on walls," LaGrange said. "It was weird, like we could have checked people in."
But only on the second floor. Wind and surge gutted the first floor. The front porch collapsed and a huge tree fell on the side of the building.
"I'm doing everything I can to save her," said LaGrange, whose business partner is Herbert Pursley. "Like every one else, I'm dealing with insurance and SBA loans. I'm physically working seven days a week to save this building.
"There is a reason the Blue Rose survived. The easiest thing to do would be to walk away, but I keep looking at her and the incredible workmanship and I feel a moral responsibility to renovate. I brought in a professional company to stabilize the foundation, and if I have to board it up until I can restore, at least it will be stabilized."
- KAT BERGERON
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Posted on Tue, Nov. 15, 2005
Three Catholic churches to rebuild
Four parishes to merge into two
By KAT BERGERON
kbergeron@sunherald.com
Advent is the beginning of the Catholic year, and for the Biloxi Diocese, it signals a year of change with four parishes combining into two and news that several of the worst-hit beachfront parishes will be allowed to rebuild. Advent begins Nov. 27.
Bishop Thomas J. Rodi said he made the decisions after six sessions at which parishioners voiced their preferences and concerns, and after what Rodi called much "prayerful consideration." The availability of priests and parish attachments to community churches were main considerations.
St. Paul in Pass Christian, St. Clare in Waveland and St. Thomas the Apostle in Long Beach can rebuild their Katrina-ravaged sanctuaries.
"I think it's a beautiful location and I think the vast majority of parishioners are excited," said the Rev. Louis Lohan of St. Thomas, which like the others was destroyed in a 1969 storm.
"I feel good about the decision, but hope that we aren't setting ourselves up down the road. The thing we have seen since Katrina is that the church is the people gathered together. The location is secondary," Lohan said.
On hearing the news of his church, the Rev. Martin Gillespie of St. Clare said it "is a testament of faith and hope."
Unlike the others, St. Paul also is affected by the bishop's decision to merge with another parish, Our Lady of Lourdes. OLL faced the retirement of an 82-year-old Trinitarian priest whose order has told the diocese it can no longer staff OLL. The new parish will be pastored by a diocesan priest.
"The bishop heard the people of St. Paul and Our Lady of Lourdes and he's respectful of the two identities," said the Rev. Dennis Carver of St. Paul.
"It's a wonderful marriage and I think the two communities will live together as a family. That doesn't mean we're not going to have work, learn how to live as a new family in a new household parish, but out of marriage comes new life."
The name for the new parish and a Biloxi parish that will come with the union of two small parishes, St. John and St. Louis, are not yet known.
The new Biloxi parish will be pastored by the Rev. Steve Wilson, a Redemptorist priest whose order works with the poor. He arrived in Biloxi immediately after Katrina to help the diocese.
"For St. John and St. Louis, this is a true merger about parishes with equal strength," said Wilson. "We're locating it physically at St. John because it's a bigger church and more sound. At the meeting there wasn't a lot of dissent. People were expecting it, but a little saddened.
"We have big plans for the parish to revitalize East Biloxi."
At a glance
The Biloxi Catholic Diocese announced:
School Rebuilding: No decisions have yet been made about these Catholic schools destroyed in the hurricane: St. Clare at Waveland, St. Paul at Pass Christian, St. Thomas in Long Beach.
Parish Rebuilding: St. Clare in Waveland, St. Thomas in Long Beach and St. Paul in Pass Christian will rebuild on present beachfront sites.
Parish mergers: St. Paul and Our Lady of Lourdes will become a new parish; St. John and St. Louis in Biloxi will become a new parish. Our Mother of Sorrows will remain a personal parish pastored by the Rev. Steve Wilson.
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Posted on Sun, Nov. 13, 2005
Town hall meeting set for Tuesday
SUN HERALD
PASS CHRISTIAN - The first of several town hall meetings with the Carl Small Town Center from Mississippi State University will be held Tuesday at 4 p.m. at the Gospel Singers of America Hall at 951 E. Scenic Drive.
The Carl team will seek to supplement the findings of the Governor's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal by helping the city of Pass Christian with ideas on how to plan, implement and fund the next stage of this nearly wiped-out city's existence.
The meeting is designed to inform the public, as well as ask for input and ideas.
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Posted Sunday, Nov 13
Bishop Rodi merges 2 parishes
SUN HERALD
PASS CHRISTIAN - Effective Nov. 27, St. Paul and Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic parishes will be merged into one.
Biloxi Diocese Bishop Thomas J. Rodi announced the merger, which takes into consideration the pending retirement of the Our Lady of Lourdes pastor, Father Thaddeus Searles, 82, and the availability of diocesan priests.
The two parishes had a combined total of 768 households before Hurricane Katrina struck on Aug. 29. The new parish will probably be assigned only one priest as it rebuilds, Rodi said.
Rodi earlier in the week granted permission for St. Paul, destroyed by the hurricane, to rebuild.
Our Lady of Lourdes Church was not damaged.
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Posted on Sun, Nov. 13, 2005
EDITORIAL
Cities and counties along the Coast need to comply with FEMA maps
Responding to an unprecedented disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has revised maps of the flood plain in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties with unprecedented speed.
Those maps will be shared with public officials in coastal cities and counties this week and will be available to the general public by week's end.
The purpose of these revised flood maps is to reduce the risk - to life and property - along the Coast. This is especially important in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
"Quite frankly, in terms of hurricane storm surge, nothing compares to Hurricane Katrina. Not even close," says Todd Davison, the director of FEMA's mitigation office in Atlanta.
While FEMA's new recommended flood elevations are lower than Katrina's storm surge - which was at least 35 feet above sea level at one point in Pass Christian - the new elevations are three to eight feet higher than current flood elevations in the three Coast counties.
But then, the current elevations are not current at all, having been made in the mid-1980s. Considering the changes along the Coast since then, and the advances in mapping skills and the science of hurricanes, Davison said the elevations now in place were due for revision because they underrepresented the risk to property owners - and insurers.
For the federal flood insurance program to be effective, there must be an accurate appraisal of the risks involved in building in an area that might flood. FEMA will unveil that more accurate assessment this week.
But that is only part of the process.
The second thing that must be done is the adoption of building codes and zoning ordinances that reflect that risk. Doing that will ensure insurers that the redevelopment of South Mississippi will be done as safely and prudently as possible.
The implementation of FEMA's recommendations will also lower the cost of flood insurance to property owners. In fact, FEMA has an incentive program that permits communities to cut the cost of a flood insurance policy by as much as 45 percent.
An additional incentive for Coast communities to embrace these safer elevation recommendations for public structures is that they will improve the chances that essential services are reestablished much more quickly after the winds die down and the storm surge goes back out to sea.
The more sustainable our buildings are, the more lives and money we will save in the long run.
"What we're trying to do," says Davison, "is reduce future damage." For buildings, that means: "The higher you go, the safer it is." And for insurance purposes: "The higher you go, the cheaper it gets."
FEMA's recommendations are intended to make our homes and workplaces, our police stations and fire stations, our hospitals and schools, safer. That will certainly make them easier to insure and probably allow us to move back into them quicker following a storm.
This is an extremely important matter of public policy and demands the immediate and focused attention of both the private and public sectors.
We cannot prevent another hurricane, but we can and should mitigate the damage that might be done by the next one.
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Posted on Thu, Nov. 10, 2005
Latham: Housing top priority
By MELISSA M. SCALLAN
mmscallan@sunherald.com
GULFPORT - State and local emergency management agencies want to have everyone displaced by Hurricane Katrina in travel trailers by the end of the year.
Robert Latham, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, was in South Mississippi on Wednesday and said 16,000 travel trailers and mobile homes have been delivered and set up in this area.
Officials expect more than double that number by the end of next month, Latham said.
"Housing is our top priority," he said. "Temporary housing is just that. What we've got to start doing is looking at more-permanent housing."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has set a time frame of 24 months for people to get out of trailers.
For those who haven't received trailers, tent cities in Pass Christian and D'Iberville opened Wednesday. Another tent city is expected to open in Harrison County next week.
The tents, constructed by Seabees, have hard floors and outer coverings and contain showers. Laundry facilities are being built on site, and FEMA is providing food.
"Gov. Barbour wanted to make sure local governments had options," Latham said. "It's been a challenge, but it seems to have worked really well."
The deadline is Nov. 26 for FEMA to pay 100 percent of housing, debris cleanup and other costs, but Barbour is asking for an extension.
Right now, FEMA also is paying for people from across the country to travel with cleanup crews and look for remains of people killed in the storm.
"We knew there was a possibility that there could be some bodies in the debris," Latham said. "These spotters are trained, and they can stop work immediately so we can treat these people with as much respect as possible."
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Posted on Wed, Nov. 09, 2005
Flood elevation maps coming
By ANITA LEE
calee@sunherald.com
GULFPORT - Beginning Nov. 18, South Mississippians can go to the Internet and pinpoint flood elevations recommended for construction on coastal property.
FEMA is using satellite technology to generate maps showing new advisory flood elevations, lot by lot. Maps also will show Katrina's tidal surge, which was even higher.
"Quite frankly, in terms of hurricane storm surge, nothing compares to Hurricane Katrina. Not even close," Todd Davison, FEMA's mitigation director for this region, told the Sun Herald today. He said the surge from Hurricane Camille in 1969 was 10 feet or more lower.
Katrina's highest recorded surge was 35 feet, on the Mississippi Sound in west Pass Christian.
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Posted on Thu, Nov. 10, 2005
Architects discuss ways to make coast more beautiful and safe
Associated Press
GULFPORT, Miss. - Architects helping to reconstruct the Mississippi Gulf Coast want to build a beautiful beachfront with buildings and homes that can withstand a major hurricane without "ugly and expensive" pilings.
But Todd Davison, mitigation director for Federal Emergency Management Agency, told the Sun Herald Wednesday that Hurricane Katrina showed that goal isn't realistic.
"There's no way, despite whoever says it, we can build a house to take a bath, so to speak," Davison said. "It's virtually impossible to build a building to withstand wave forces in a cost-effective way."
Architect and urbanist Stefanos Polyzoides of Pasadena, Calif., who leads a design team for rebuilding Biloxi, disagrees with Davison.
Polyzoides said buildings could be built at grade to survive tidal surges.
"You have two choices, as I see it," Polyzoides recently told city leaders. "Either scrap the town (Biloxi) and move north, or create a town that can take a swim every 30 years."
The debate in Biloxi comes while federal officials debate what size wave is a homewrecker. When determining a coastal area's designation on national flood zone maps FEMA officials consider not only the depth of rising water, but also "wave action."
Areas where 100-year storms are likely to make waves greater than 3 feet high are considered "velocity zones," the most dangerous.
"The thinking is, anything greater than 3 feet will wipe out a house," Davison said.
But Hurricane Ivan last year and the monstrous Katrina have changed some experts' thinking.
"After Ivan, and especially after Katrina, we learned a lot about debris loading," Davison said. "That is, the large amount of debris, missiles, in the water makes a big difference."
"Quite frankly, in terms of hurricane storm surge, nothing compares to Hurricane Katrina. Not even close," Davison said.
He said the surge from Hurricane Camille in 1969 was 10 feet or more lower. Katrina's highest recorded surge was 35 feet on the Mississippi Sound in west Pass Christian.
Jackson County supervisors have already voted to require 4 feet as the increase in elevation, above the current flood maps, for new construction and the total reconstruction of some homes.
"It's all about the elevation," Davison said. "The higher you go, the safer it is."
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Posted on Wed, Nov. 09, 2005
PASS CHRISTIAN
By JOSHUA NORMAN
jdnorman@sunherald.com
PASS CHRISTIAN - Lisa Hayden finally came home to Menge Avenue last week, decades after she left, to live in a FEMA trailer on her parents' lawn.
Her Bay St. Louis home is gone and her childhood home at 328 Menge Ave. is a shell of its former self.
Hurricane Katrina's surge flooded most of Menge's seven-mile stretch from Interstate 10 south to the beach.
In Hayden's neighborhood, nearly a half-mile from the beach, at least ten feet of water entered every house, ruining generations of memories for dozens of families who have lived here for decades.
"It was very eerie," said Hayden, about coming home for the first time after the storm. "I was just walking around and around. I love Menge Avenue. Everyone around here was just great."
Hayden grew up riding bikes with her cousin and next-door neighbor, Charles Dubuisson.
Dubuisson, 36, later built a house right behind his mom Wilma's place and now raises his two kids, Connor, 7, and Logan, 9, there.
"It's funny," said Dubuisson, who works for Chiquita Company in Gulfport. "Our whole family is down in the Pass and everybody lost everything."
No one is leaving, though, said Dubuisson, adding he planned to move into his house by Christmas.
The stubbornness of residents who want to stay and rebuild has made the lower part of Menge Avenue look like a campsite, with long stretches of FEMA trailers.
There are also piles of debris, nine weeks after the storm, from the Oak Crest Mansion near Red Creek Road all the way down to the beach.
Dubuisson said he has found some positive aspects to his new, post-Katrina neighborhood.
"I was sitting outside drinking a beer with my wife listening to how quiet it was," said Dubuisson, adding that prior to the storm, traffic was a nearly constant on Menge.
The avenue's central location brought Randy's Rangers, a charitable group formed by an ex-horseshoer from Texas who said he decided he just had to do something for the Gulf Coast after Katrina hit.
"Menge Avenue is the heart of everything right now," said Randy May, 56. He and his "Rangers" do everything from handing out clothes, food and household goods to cooking meals to sharpening chain saws.
May said he planned to be here for the long haul.
"Hopefully we'll be able to contribute to restoration soon," May said.
What Hurricane Katrina did
Nearly every home on Menge Avenue was flooded in some way, be it with bayou water or seawater. Very few homes were knocked down, even near the beach, but several houses were lifted off their foundations and deposited in neighboring yards.
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Posted on Tue, Nov. 08, 2005
Robin Roberts to head Pass Parade
SUN HERALD
PASS CHRISTIAN - Robin Roberts of ABC's "Good Morning America" has accepted the invitation of the St. Paul Carnival Association to be the Grand Marshal of "The Pass Parade" on Feb. 26, 2006.
We are so blessed and this is a wonderful moment for the City of Pass Christian, St. Paul Elementary School, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast," said Rory Robin Rafferty Jr., president of the St. Paul Carnival Association.
The theme for the 2006 parade is "Cooking Up A Storm." Royalty, Carnvial events and the parade route will be announced at a later date.
************************
Posted on Tue, Nov. 08, 2005
Wal-Mart considers new look for Pass
By MICHAEL NEWSOM
mmnewsom@sunherald.com
PASS CHRISTIAN - Wal-Mart has agreed to discuss an unconventional plan for rebuilding its Pass Christian store.
After a town hall meeting Monday night, Laura Hall, a member of the governor's redevelopment team charged with helping Coast residents come up with rebuilding plans, said Wal-Mart executives have agreed to meet with the group.
"They actually have a phone meeting with Ben Pentreath (a design team member) and they have invited us to Bentonville, Ark.," Hall said. "We got a very warm reception to these ideas."
The redevelopment team envisions a two-story building with Wal-Mart on the ground floor and spaces on top for other businesses. Hall has said previously the facade could be built in the style of the community. A mixed commercial and residential Wal-Mart Village, offering affordable housing and narrow, walkable streets, could be built up around it.
Hall said the suggestion for Pass Christian's Wal-Mart could be the wave of the future. The store's rebuilding would be a boost to the city that would help it recapture some of its tax base.
The team gave a presentation, outlining plans that rely heavily on green spaces, to about 80 Pass Christian citizens.
Buildings that are zoned for multiple uses, such as apartments, condos, and retail shops, also are part of the plans. A public transportation system would run through the city with apartments and condominiums lining the CSX railroads tracks, which the team says would be more useful as a path for commuter trains.
If the city decides to follows the plans the team offered, city hall might be moved to the center of the city, along with other business, to reinvigorate the downtown area and create a business district where people can get the things they need by walking less than a quarter of a mile from the center of town.
The group also said the harbor should be rebuilt. Some citizens at the meeting proposed fashioning it after the harbor in Alexandria, Va., as a site for restaurants and businesses.
Pentreath, who works for the Prince of Wales Foundation, told the crowd that Pass Christian had a good foundation to rebuild.
"One of the things that struck me is that Pass Christian is better off than some of the others," Pentreath said. "Your town was already remarkably beautiful and well planned."
The city has final say on the plans for renewal because it would have to adopt new planning regulations, and properties would have to be rezoned.
*************************************
Pass Christian: Hit for a second time
WJTV Channel 12
Tuesday, November 8, 2005
PASS CHRISTIAN IS SLOWLY STARTING TO GET BACK ON IT'S FEET. AFTER BEING POUNDED BY HURRICANE KATRINA, PEOPLE THERE ARE STARTING TO REBUILD MISSISSIPPI. MORE THAN 80 PERCENT OF THE HOMES IN PASS CHRISTIAN WERE DESTROYED BY THE STORM.
TWO MONTHS LATER, MANY PEOPLE ARE LIVING IN TENTS AND TRAILERS ON THEIR PROPERTY. MANY OF THEM HAVE NO RUNNING WATER OR ELECTRICITY. THIS WAS NOT THE FIRST TIME THE MISSISSIPPI TOWN BRAVED A MAJOR STORM. HURRICANE CAMILLE NEARLY WIPED PASS CHRISTIAN OFF THE MAP.
********************************
Posted on Sun, Nov. 06, 2005
Fork in the road for Action Alley
By RICKY MATHEWS
In perception and in reality, Wal-Mart has a chance to do good
Wal-Mart has a dilemma in Pass Christian. For the good of that community, I hope the retail giant makes the right choices.
Before it became ground zero for Hurricane Katrina, Pass Christian was a unique and beautiful bedroom community. Today, 70 percent of the city is gone. The downtown business district is gone. And, more important from a tax revenue point of view, the city's thriving new Wal-Mart has been destroyed.
Now, many speculate that Wal-Mart will not rebuild on the beach. Some say the company is already looking at property on Interstate 10, out of the city limits.
If Wal-Mart doesn't rebuild inside the city limits, what will be the catalyst that enables Pass Christian to begin to fight and claw its way out of the abyss that wonderful community finds itself in today?
On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Wal-Mart has amassed a stable of smart, experienced political operatives and marketing strategists into a war room called "Action Alley" in Bentonville. The roster includes familiar names who have run presidential campaigns.
This a clear signal that Wal-Mart is mounting an aggressive defense against negative publicity, ranging from complaints about wages and health benefits to the company's 800-pound-gorilla effect on small-town businesses.
Wal-Mart executives are concerned that the negative feelings about Wal-Mart characterized in the new Hollywood documentary, "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price," may take hold and end up getting a cult following.
They are fighting an uphill battle. But if they are willing to change their approach, they have options.
In South Mississippi, there are many different points of view about Wal-Mart. On one hand, you could say Wal-Mart has conveniently located its big box stores crammed with the low-priced items we need in our busy lives. On the other hand, you could say that Wal-Mart has built the simplest, ugliest, cheapest stores possible (in part, because we did not demand better) on the outskirts of selected cities, thus shifting and changing shopping patterns forever.
There is no arguing that Wal-Mart has redefined shopping in South Mississippi. Neighborhood grocery shopping has changed dramatically. Only a few struggling grocery stores have survived. Most of the familiar names have closed. Many small businesses have died.
There are good examples of how communities have adjusted to deal with the new Wal-Mart reality. Ocean Springs, for example, under the leadership of chamber executive Margaret Miller, has diversified. Miller refused to allow Wal-Mart to gut the city's wonderful small-town lifestyle. She developed a teaching tool to help small businesses learn how to thrive in a Wal-Mart world.
Miller's teachings are about finding out what Wal-Mart doesn't do very well and then doing those things. Ocean Springs has capitalized on its identity as a wonderful cultural arts community full of wonderful restaurants, and today the city has a national reputation for being one of the must-see places to visit.
Unfortunately, there isn't a Margaret Miller lesson for grocery stores and other retail stores. As a result, South Mississippi's retail centers have been shifting to the outskirts of the communities of South Mississippi, changing the character of our small towns.
As I learned from Andres Duany and the other New Urbanists who were part of the Mississippi Renewal Forums, where architects and planners from around the world brainstormed with local architects, planners and local leaders about the future possibilities for South Mississippi. Duany was particularly critical of our past approach to Wal-Mart, saying that we should have demanded more and better from them.
Enter another dimension to this story: the Robin Roberts factor. Robin Roberts is a Pass Christian native and co-anchor of ABC's "Good Morning America." After Katrina, GMA adopted the city of Pass Christian for up to a year. This brings an interesting twist to the strategists in the Bentonville Action Alley PR war room.
Earlier this year, my family and I visited Robin at GMA's studio in New York. Wal-Mart had just signed on to be a sponsor of the show. As we talked inside the building, picketers could be seen outside the window of the set. At the time, I just thought, isn't that interesting... Wal-Mart is getting hit from all angles. I was impressed at how the folks on the GMA staff were unfazed by the quiet protest. And that's the last time I thought about it until now.
Is it possible that conversations are now going on at Wal-Mart that involve all of these angles?
Allow me to speculate: Feeling some pressure as a result of the national spotlight on Robin Roberts' hometown and the fact that Wal-Mart is a major sponsor of GMA, could those gifted political strategists be advising the executives at Wal-Mart to seize this moment?
If they're not, here's some free, unsolicited, political advice: They should be!
They may also being feeling the sting from Andres Duany's criticism at the recent Mississippi Renewal Forum. They have an opportunity to kill several birds with one stone in Pass Christian. By listening to Duany, who may actually be on to something - and I think he is - they could devise a model that would silence the critics who say that Wal-Mart is all about killing small towns.
What if Wal-Mart were to work with New Urbanists and Duany to develop a new town center for Pass Christian that could become the catalyst for the rebuilding of the city? Instead of a "big box" store, Wal-Mart could build a series of stores that give the appearance of a small town. The shot in the arm this would give to the development of other stores and restaurants would be incredible.
There has to be a way for Wal-Mart to do something special in Pass Christian that not only gives Wal-Mart a chance to avoid the public relations nightmare of pulling out of Pass Christian but also creates an exciting new model for Pass Christian and for Wal-Mart.
There will never be a better time to turn a PR corner. I hope I am half-right about my speculations and that Wal-Mart seizes this moment.
Did you hear me in Action Alley?
Ricky Mathews, president and publisher of the Sun Herald, is a vice chairman of the Governor's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal. Contact him by mail at P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567; telephone, (228) 896-2420; or e-mail, rmathews@sunherald.com.
by Ricky Mathews
President and publisher
Coming Monday: 'Lead with your heart, Wal-Mart' by Stan Tiner
************************
Posted on Sun, Nov. 06, 2005
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
The cities we rebuild will reflect the people we are inside
We are going to rebuild The Pass. I keep having these images overlaying in my mind. The old village... the destruction I see... and shimmering over it a new place like a mirage or spirit place yet uncreated! A place of possibility where we can create a new village more in keeping with what earth should be, what loving caring people are when they come together.
I keep seeing a village with no light pollution, where our ground light is so controlled at night that we can still see starlight. It was the night sky which fed and nourished my soul through all this disaster.
I can see a village with gardens everywhere - we were an arbor city, and many of our trees survived. We were and are a bird sanctuary. We should have bike paths and green spaces caring for people and environment. I would appreciate hiking paths like the United Kingdom, so well known for its touring vacations.
If we are going to invite tourists back, then we should have something here other than Wal-Mart. I would like to see U.S. 90 moved north, skirting our village, and all that beach and waterfront having less traffic. Bike paths here, as well... the heavier traffic moved north along the railroad which probably should move as well, sigh.
Some designer said we needed light rail because our railroad is loud! I just smiled; we all speak about how much we miss the sound of "our" trains.
The same designer said because so much of our village has been demolished we should "embrace Wal-Mart" and the possible mall occurring there. I believe what will rejuvenate our village is to have small businesses return - little shops and offices similar to what we had. We need our artists back, and little restaurants and a coffee house where we can gather (remember the cheeseburger site that fed us when no one else did and provided a gathering place for us to be together?). We need a little market to walk or bike to... our park for our children and ourselves... we need our schools.
My office still stands and I am still seeing patients there. We need services provided by those people we have loved and trusted for years! We need to re-create a home for each other, a home for all of us together.
I remember a man who sold stuffed crab casseroles door to door to help put kids through college. He made the best crab I've ever eaten - perhaps because it was made for love.
The village shimmering in my mind is built of love and caring for each other - just as we have cared for each other all through the aftermath of this storm.
I am always teaching: what is internal to us becomes externalized in what we build, how we live and work. That could not be more true than now as we choose what and how to rebuild. This opportunity to re-build is a chance to get it right for all of us. I suspect this is true for all 11 communities along the Coast.
DR. KATHLEEN C. QUINN
Pass Christian
**********************
Posted on Sun, Nov. 06, 2005
Archivists taking stock of documents --- Joy found in surviving items
By CARYN ROUSSEAU
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PASS CHRISTIAN - As Hurricane Katrina approached, local historians were confident a vault filled with precious pre-Civil War pictures, maps and documents cataloguing the history of this Gulf Coast community would be safe.
Hopes were high after the storm passed. The former bank building that served as the Pass Christian Historical Society headquarters washed away, but its vault still stood. Workers opened it to find wet, sopping papers - the ruined history of a seaside town. Most of the collection, including town ledgers and old newspapers, is lost.
"Apparently, the vault did not hold back water," said Lou Rizzardi, an alderman and historical society member. "So it penetrated. Things got damaged because of water."
All up and down the Mississippi Gulf Coast and into New Orleans, archivists and local historians are taking stock. They're worried about the future, but wondering also what they have left of their past after Katrina's winds and massive storm surge on Aug. 29 splintered many communities and left others waterlogged.
Many are considering whether it is wise to keep such valuable documents in disaster-prone areas. Elsewhere in Mississippi and New Orleans, archivists swooped in as soon as they could after Katrina to rescue documents, sending them in refrigerated vans to special labs for restoration.
Just a few miles west of Pass Christian, the Hancock County Historical Society in Bay St. Louis fared much better with very little water damage and a vault that held, protecting thousands of documents, including family diaries and thousands of local photographs.
Charles Harry Gray, the executive director, was prepared in case disaster struck. Over the years he had been making copies of all of the group's most-treasured documents, including 30,000 pictures. Not one single photograph or record was lost.
They are the pieces of Bay St. Louis' 306-year history that made the town of 8,230 what it is today, he said. Many of the copies were on computer disks and hard drives; others were sent to the University of Southern Mississippi, two hours north in Hattiesburg.
"It is imperative that you have copies in other locations because you never know what's going to happen, what the next catastrophe is going to be, and there certainly will be one," Gray said.
There were no copies in Pass Christian. Rizzardi said the hope for the town's past lies with a local plumber, Billy Bourdin, who kept 3,400 vintage pictures on computer disks as a hobby.
The actual photographs and his eight piles of newspaper clippings are gone, Bourdin said, but the disks survived.
"Stayed on the desk shelf during the storm. So far they've meant very little. Maybe they'll mean a little more now," said Bourdin, who displayed many pictures at his Bourdin Brothers plumbing shop downtown, a two-story brick building whose first floor was gutted by the storm.
Rizzardi finds himself second-guessing his trust in the vault.
Perhaps the state capital at Jackson, about 170 miles to the north, would be a good place to store duplicates, he said. "Somebody off the Coast that has a vault, though we would like to have them close at hand so we have access."
Mingo Tingle, a preservationist with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, says taking local historical documents away from towns for safekeeping is a touchy subject.
"This is their history," Tingle said. "It belongs to them. We don't want to come and take it from them. If the local historians would just make copies, send the originals to places like Jackson where we have the facilities to file that."
There are archivists working all along the Coast, he said, in such cities as Gulfport and Biloxi to help local historians salvage what they can.
"We've had people over there, talking to them, how to save their records. How to dry them out," Tingle said. "Mold grows very quickly."
Mold and water damage affected thousands more documents that could be saved. Edmond Boudreaux, chairman of the Mississippi Coast Historical and Genealogical Society, climbed into the Biloxi Public Library the day after Katrina to assess the damage to the group's collection, which was housed there.
While most items were safe in a vault upstairs, many items had to be freeze-dried and sent away for treatment, he said.
"Once it's wet, you don't want it to dry out," Boudreaux said. "It will stick together. You can slowly warm it up and bring it apart while it's still moist."
Boudreaux said he never thought Katrina's waters would reach the library.
"Nobody ever dreamed that we would have one do as much damage to the historical integrity," he said. "You grab things just as you're walking out the door, but we would have taken a lot more. We didn't know it was going to be as bad as it was."
Boudreaux says there is joy in finding little pieces that survived the storm.
"It's one little victory in all the disappointments," he said. "One photograph, one document."
Charles Sullivan, a history professor at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, said quirky examples of local history are often difficult to hold onto.
"The things that they have that are unique, that nobody else had them, they're gone," Sullivan said. "Nobody will ever have them again. We had already lost so much in Camille. All we had left of that loss was the documents and pictures and for them to be lost too is doubly disastrous."
Back in Bay St. Louis, some of Gray's historical gems sit safely on shelves. There's a complete set of "War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Army" next to the homemade scrapbook "History of the Bay High Parent Teacher Association," complete with black-and-white photographs from the 1970s.
Gray said he hopes local groups will develop the technology to protect their collections by the time the next hurricane approaches.
"We have to close out this chapter of our lives," he said. "And put the photographs of what happened to us and our houses in the albums with the others."
*******************************
Posted on Sun, Nov. 06, 2005
Fork in the road for Action Alley
By RICKY MATHEWS
In perception and in reality, Wal-Mart has a chance to do good
Wal-Mart has a dilemma in Pass Christian. For the good of that community, I hope the retail giant makes the right choices.
Before it became ground zero for Hurricane Katrina, Pass Christian was a unique and beautiful bedroom community. Today, 70 percent of the city is gone. The downtown business district is gone. And, more important from a tax revenue point of view, the city's thriving new Wal-Mart has been destroyed.
Now, many speculate that Wal-Mart will not rebuild on the beach. Some say the company is already looking at property on Interstate 10, out of the city limits.
If Wal-Mart doesn't rebuild inside the city limits, what will be the catalyst that enables Pass Christian to begin to fight and claw its way out of the abyss that wonderful community finds itself in today?
On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Wal-Mart has amassed a stable of smart, experienced political operatives and marketing strategists into a war room called "Action Alley" in Bentonville. The roster includes familiar names who have run presidential campaigns.
This a clear signal that Wal-Mart is mounting an aggressive defense against negative publicity, ranging from complaints about wages and health benefits to the company's 800-pound-gorilla effect on small-town businesses.
Wal-Mart executives are concerned that the negative feelings about Wal-Mart characterized in the new Hollywood documentary, "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price," may take hold and end up getting a cult following.
They are fighting an uphill battle. But if they are willing to change their approach, they have options.
In South Mississippi, there are many different points of view about Wal-Mart. On one hand, you could say Wal-Mart has conveniently located its big box stores crammed with the low-priced items we need in our busy lives. On the other hand, you could say that Wal-Mart has built the simplest, ugliest, cheapest stores possible (in part, because we did not demand better) on the outskirts of selected cities, thus shifting and changing shopping patterns forever.
There is no arguing that Wal-Mart has redefined shopping in South Mississippi. Neighborhood grocery shopping has changed dramatically. Only a few struggling grocery stores have survived. Most of the familiar names have closed. Many small businesses have died.
There are good examples of how communities have adjusted to deal with the new Wal-Mart reality. Ocean Springs, for example, under the leadership of chamber executive Margaret Miller, has diversified. Miller refused to allow Wal-Mart to gut the city's wonderful small-town lifestyle. She developed a teaching tool to help small businesses learn how to thrive in a Wal-Mart world.
Miller's teachings are about finding out what Wal-Mart doesn't do very well and then doing those things. Ocean Springs has capitalized on its identity as a wonderful cultural arts community full of wonderful restaurants, and today the city has a national reputation for being one of the must-see places to visit.
Unfortunately, there isn't a Margaret Miller lesson for grocery stores and other retail stores. As a result, South Mississippi's retail centers have been shifting to the outskirts of the communities of South Mississippi, changing the character of our small towns.
As I learned from Andres Duany and the other New Urbanists who were part of the Mississippi Renewal Forums, where architects and planners from around the world brainstormed with local architects, planners and local leaders about the future possibilities for South Mississippi. Duany was particularly critical of our past approach to Wal-Mart, saying that we should have demanded more and better from them.
Enter another dimension to this story: the Robin Roberts factor. Robin Roberts is a Pass Christian native and co-anchor of ABC's "Good Morning America." After Katrina, GMA adopted the city of Pass Christian for up to a year. This brings an interesting twist to the strategists in the Bentonville Action Alley PR war room.
Earlier this year, my family and I visited Robin at GMA's studio in New York. Wal-Mart had just signed on to be a sponsor of the show. As we talked inside the building, picketers could be seen outside the window of the set. At the time, I just thought, isn't that interesting... Wal-Mart is getting hit from all angles. I was impressed at how the folks on the GMA staff were unfazed by the quiet protest. And that's the last time I thought about it until now.
Is it possible that conversations are now going on at Wal-Mart that involve all of these angles?
Allow me to speculate: Feeling some pressure as a result of the national spotlight on Robin Roberts' hometown and the fact that Wal-Mart is a major sponsor of GMA, could those gifted political strategists be advising the executives at Wal-Mart to seize this moment?
If they're not, here's some free, unsolicited, political advice: They should be!
They may also being feeling the sting from Andres Duany's criticism at the recent Mississippi Renewal Forum. They have an opportunity to kill several birds with one stone in Pass Christian. By listening to Duany, who may actually be on to something - and I think he is - they could devise a model that would silence the critics who say that Wal-Mart is all about killing small towns.
What if Wal-Mart were to work with New Urbanists and Duany to develop a new town center for Pass Christian that could become the catalyst for the rebuilding of the city? Instead of a "big box" store, Wal-Mart could build a series of stores that give the appearance of a small town. The shot in the arm this would give to the development of other stores and restaurants would be incredible.
There has to be a way for Wal-Mart to do something special in Pass Christian that not only gives Wal-Mart a chance to avoid the public relations nightmare of pulling out of Pass Christian but also creates an exciting new model for Pass Christian and for Wal-Mart.
There will never be a better time to turn a PR corner. I hope I am half-right about my speculations and that Wal-Mart seizes this moment.
Did you hear me in Action Alley?
Ricky Mathews, president and publisher of the Sun Herald, is a vice chairman of the Governor's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal. Contact him by mail at P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567; telephone, (228) 896-2420; or e-mail, rmathews@sunherald.com.
by Ricky Mathews
President and publisher
Coming Monday: 'Lead with your heart, Wal-Mart' by Stan Tiner

************************
Posted on Sun, Nov. 06, 2005
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
The cities we rebuild will reflect the people we are inside
We are going to rebuild The Pass. I keep having these images overlaying in my mind. The old village... the destruction I see... and shimmering over it a new place like a mirage or spirit place yet uncreated! A place of possibility where we can create a new village more in keeping with what earth should be, what loving caring people are when they come together.
I keep seeing a village with no light pollution, where our ground light is so controlled at night that we can still see starlight. It was the night sky which fed and nourished my soul through all this disaster.
I can see a village with gardens everywhere - we were an arbor city, and many of our trees survived. We were and are a bird sanctuary. We should have bike paths and green spaces caring for people and environment. I would appreciate hiking paths like the United Kingdom, so well known for its touring vacations.
If we are going to invite tourists back, then we should have something here other than Wal-Mart. I would like to see U.S. 90 moved north, skirting our village, and all that beach and waterfront having less traffic. Bike paths here, as well... the heavier traffic moved north along the railroad which probably should move as well, sigh.
Some designer said we needed light rail because our railroad is loud! I just smiled; we all speak about how much we miss the sound of "our" trains.
The same designer said because so much of our village has been demolished we should "embrace Wal-Mart" and the possible mall occurring there. I believe what will rejuvenate our village is to have small businesses return - little shops and offices similar to what we had. We need our artists back, and little restaurants and a coffee house where we can gather (remember the cheeseburger site that fed us when no one else did and provided a gathering place for us to be together?). We need a little market to walk or bike to... our park for our children and ourselves... we need our schools.
My office still stands and I am still seeing patients there. We need services provided by those people we have loved and trusted for years! We need to re-create a home for each other, a home for all of us together.
I remember a man who sold stuffed crab casseroles door to door to help put kids through college. He made the best crab I've ever eaten - perhaps because it was made for love.
The village shimmering in my mind is built of love and caring for each other - just as we have cared for each other all through the aftermath of this storm.
I am always teaching: what is internal to us becomes externalized in what we build, how we live and work. That could not be more true than now as we choose what and how to rebuild. This opportunity to re-build is a chance to get it right for all of us. I suspect this is true for all 11 communities along the Coast.
DR. KATHLEEN C. QUINN
Pass Christian

**********************
Posted on Sun, Nov. 06, 2005
Archivists taking stock of documents --- Joy found in surviving items
By CARYN ROUSSEAU
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PASS CHRISTIAN - As Hurricane Katrina approached, local historians were confident a vault filled with precious pre-Civil War pictures, maps and documents cataloguing the history of this Gulf Coast community would be safe.
Hopes were high after the storm passed. The former bank building that served as the Pass Christian Historical Society headquarters washed away, but its vault still stood. Workers opened it to find wet, sopping papers - the ruined history of a seaside town. Most of the collection, including town ledgers and old newspapers, is lost.
"Apparently, the vault did not hold back water," said Lou Rizzardi, an alderman and historical society member. "So it penetrated. Things got damaged because of water."
All up and down the Mississippi Gulf Coast and into New Orleans, archivists and local historians are taking stock. They're worried about the future, but wondering also what they have left of their past after Katrina's winds and massive storm surge on Aug. 29 splintered many communities and left others waterlogged.
Many are considering whether it is wise to keep such valuable documents in disaster-prone areas. Elsewhere in Mississippi and New Orleans, archivists swooped in as soon as they could after Katrina to rescue documents, sending them in refrigerated vans to special labs for restoration.
Just a few miles west of Pass Christian, the Hancock County Historical Society in Bay St. Louis fared much better with very little water damage and a vault that held, protecting thousands of documents, including family diaries and thousands of local photographs.
Charles Harry Gray, the executive director, was prepared in case disaster struck. Over the years he had been making copies of all of the group's most-treasured documents, including 30,000 pictures. Not one single photograph or record was lost.
They are the pieces of Bay St. Louis' 306-year history that made the town of 8,230 what it is today, he said. Many of the copies were on computer disks and hard drives; others were sent to the University of Southern Mississippi, two hours north in Hattiesburg.
"It is imperative that you have copies in other locations because you never know what's going to happen, what the next catastrophe is going to be, and there certainly will be one," Gray said.
There were no copies in Pass Christian. Rizzardi said the hope for the town's past lies with a local plumber, Billy Bourdin, who kept 3,400 vintage pictures on computer disks as a hobby.
The actual photographs and his eight piles of newspaper clippings are gone, Bourdin said, but the disks survived.
"Stayed on the desk shelf during the storm. So far they've meant very little. Maybe they'll mean a little more now," said Bourdin, who displayed many pictures at his Bourdin Brothers plumbing shop downtown, a two-story brick building whose first floor was gutted by the storm.
Rizzardi finds himself second-guessing his trust in the vault.
Perhaps the state capital at Jackson, about 170 miles to the north, would be a good place to store duplicates, he said. "Somebody off the Coast that has a vault, though we would like to have them close at hand so we have access."
Mingo Tingle, a preservationist with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, says taking local historical documents away from towns for safekeeping is a touchy subject.
"This is their history," Tingle said. "It belongs to them. We don't want to come and take it from them. If the local historians would just make copies, send the originals to places like Jackson where we have the facilities to file that."
There are archivists working all along the Coast, he said, in such cities as Gulfport and Biloxi to help local historians salvage what they can.
"We've had people over there, talking to them, how to save their records. How to dry them out," Tingle said. "Mold grows very quickly."
Mold and water damage affected thousands more documents that could be saved. Edmond Boudreaux, chairman of the Mississippi Coast Historical and Genealogical Society, climbed into the Biloxi Public Library the day after Katrina to assess the damage to the group's collection, which was housed there.
While most items were safe in a vault upstairs, many items had to be freeze-dried and sent away for treatment, he said.
"Once it's wet, you don't want it to dry out," Boudreaux said. "It will stick together. You can slowly warm it up and bring it apart while it's still moist."
Boudreaux said he never thought Katrina's waters would reach the library.
"Nobody ever dreamed that we would have one do as much damage to the historical integrity," he said. "You grab things just as you're walking out the door, but we would have taken a lot more. We didn't know it was going to be as bad as it was."
Boudreaux says there is joy in finding little pieces that survived the storm.
"It's one little victory in all the disappointments," he said. "One photograph, one document."
Charles Sullivan, a history professor at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, said quirky examples of local history are often difficult to hold onto.
"The things that they have that are unique, that nobody else had them, they're gone," Sullivan said. "Nobody will ever have them again. We had already lost so much in Camille. All we had left of that loss was the documents and pictures and for them to be lost too is doubly disastrous."
Back in Bay St. Louis, some of Gray's historical gems sit safely on shelves. There's a complete set of "War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Army" next to the homemade scrapbook "History of the Bay High Parent Teacher Association," complete with black-and-white photographs from the 1970s.
Gray said he hopes local groups will develop the technology to protect their collections by the time the next hurricane approaches.
"We have to close out this chapter of our lives," he said. "And put the photographs of what happened to us and our houses in the albums with the others."

****************************
 Posted on Fri, Nov. 04, 2005
Caught on tape: Katrina -- Storm chaser got up-close footage of surge
By MELISSA M. SCALLAN
mmscallan@sunherald.com
BILOXI - Jim Edds' interest in hurricanes started in 1979 when Frederic hit Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, but it wasn't until 1999 that he began chasing storms for a living.
He's seen quite a few since - Isidore, Lili, Charley and Ivan to name a few - but he said Hurricane Katrina was one of the most intense he's ever experienced.
"Those folks at the National Hurricane Center knew this was going to be a monster," he said.
Edds' business is based in the Florida Keys and he began chasing Katrina when she pounded the Sunshine State. When forecasters predicted the storm would hit the Louisiana coast, he knew South Mississippi would get the worst of it.
"If you're a storm chaser and you were in New Orleans, you were in the wrong place because you were on the west side of the storm," he said.
Edds looked at places in Pass Christian, Long Beach and Gulfport but decided those were too dangerous and he wouldn't be able to film the storm surge. Edds got permission from Bill Holmes, director of the Mississippi Coast Coliseum, to stay at the Coliseum.
"When you've got a Category 5, there aren't many safe places," he said. "But I like to put people as close as I can to what's going on."
Edds arrived in Biloxi about 6 p.m. Aug. 28, about 12 hours before Katrina hit Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana. He was working with photographers from New York, who were at the parking garage of the Hancock Bank building in Gulfport.
Edds wanted to film the massive storm surge Katrina produced, as well as the wind damage. He stayed until the water receded and the winds died down, then headed back to his home state.
The footage from Florida and Mississippi has been compiled into a DVD, which Edds is selling. Part of the proceeds are being donated to relief funds for Hurricane Katrina victims.
Edds said his goal isn't to make money from this tragedy, but he hopes he can make enough to replace his car, which was flooded in Hurricane Wilma.
"That one got me, too," he said.
Hurricane Katrina DVD
Storm chaser Jim Edds will be at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum from 10 a.m. until sundown Saturday and Sunday selling copies of his DVD of Hurricane Katrina. The cost is $20, and part of the proceeds will go to help victims of the hurricane. For more information, check out www.extremestorms.com

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Posted on Thu, Nov. 03, 2005
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Higher flood elevations may do more harm than good
In the Sunday paper, The Sun Herald opined that municipalities across the Coast should not allow citizens to build back to pre-Katrina FEMA flood elevations. This seems to me to add to the hysteria concerning flood elevations and only does harm to those trying to rebuild.
FEMA has admitted that the new elevations are arbitrary and have no basis. Base flood elevations established after Camille have worked impeccably for 35 years. If the elevations established in 1969 had been three to eight feet higher, as most government agencies are contemplating today, it would have done little-to-nothing to minimize the damage caused by Katrina.
As my son said, " Let them raise the elevations three feet, and next time a Katrina comes calling, I'll only have six feet of water in my house."
The whole argument is ludicrous and harmful to the rebuilding efforts of those who are already facing bankruptcy trying to rebuild without flood insurance. Passing an arbitrary higher base flood elevation will only devastate the victims again and force them into bankruptcy for sure. It will further assure that many elderly are displaced permanently.
Of course raising the elevations will help some on the fringes, but the harm it does to the masses far outweighs any good that could come of it.
It is a simple fact that one cannot prepare for such events as Katrina. Local governments need to refrain from a knee-jerk reaction by acting on this matter without careful consideration of the impact it will have on those already overburdened by their losses. The victims do not need the government to add to those burdens and victimize them again.
JOHN RHODES
D'Iberville
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Posted on Wed, Nov. 02, 2005
Dale restates need for coverage
House committee hears storm progress
By GEOFF PENDER
capitalbureau@aol.com
JACKSON - Compared to 9/11 attack victims, Mississippians hit by Katrina aren't getting a fair shake from the federal government, state Insurance Commissioner George Dale told lawmakers Tuesday.
"I don't see how after 9/11 our federal government immediately jumped in and made thousands of people whole, but when we in Mississippi ask for it, we get, 'Well, we'll look into it,'
" Dale said.
Dale was referring to the "wind vs. water" dilemma thousands of Coast homeowners face.
Homeowners who didn't have separate government-backed flood insurance - mainly because federal flood advisory maps said they didn't need it - are finding their homeowners' policy insurers unwilling to pay for storm-surge destruction.
Dale echoed Gov. Haley Barbour's opinion that the federal government should help these homeowners because they "relied to their detriment" on the federal government.
Barbour on Monday said he was disappointed the Bush administration's Katrina funding recommendation doesn't contain a bailout for these homeowners and that he is lobbying Congress for help.
Dale was one of several state officials who gave briefings to, and at times got an earful from, the House Hurricane Recovery Committee on Tuesday in Jackson.
The discussions included:
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Director Robert Latham outlined progress MEMA and its federal counterpart, FEMA, have made with various programs. He said they have spent about $600 million on housing assistance and about $123 million on personal property and other assistance, such as medical.
He said more than 500,000 Mississippians in the 49 counties have applied for assistance.
Lawmakers told Latham constituents are having trouble getting FEMA trailers and are having other problems.
Rep. Diane Peranich, D-Pass Christian, told Latham she's heard numerous complaints about one particular brand of trailer and said, "I would suggest that the government never again contract with the manufacturer of this particular brand."

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Posted on Tue, Nov. 01, 2005
Disaster bridge loans offered
Assistance centers opened
By MIKE KELLER   SUN HERALD
Coast chambers of commerce need help getting businesses going after Hurricane Katrina and are struggling under the totality of damage done to the local economy, say chamber directors.
Communications and shipping problems, labor shortages, a lack of coordination and hotel space are all compounding the woes of local business owners, especially in western Harrison and Hancock counties, where Katrina caused the most damage.
"We have zero in Pass Christian," said Wilma Randazzi of Pass Christian's Chamber of Commerce. "We have piles of sticks left."
Randazzi described the plight of a Pass Christian restaurant owner who lost his business but wanted to reopen temporarily in a trailer. She said that he was not eligible to receive a trailer for business and had nowhere else to turn.
But signs of hope are beginning to appear. Along with local chamber efforts to connect with out-of-state business networks, representatives of the Mississippi Development Authority offered some help from the state to get local businesses open.
MDA officials announced the beginning of a $25 million small business disaster bridge loan program. Loans between $1,000 and $25,000 are being offered interest-free to businesses with more than two employees and fewer than 100. The loans are offered to help fix physical damage to businesses in 11 Mississippi counties. The agency hopes to have checks in owners' hands 72 hours after they apply.
In an effort to get resources and information out to business owners, MDA also opened assistance centers in Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, Picayune and Gautier. Center staff are available to help with loan applications, federal contract registration and unemployment assistance.
MDA will also hold workshops in Biloxi and other cities for business owners to rub elbows with the agencies and prime contractors holding millions of federal dollars to rebuild the Coast.
"There is a real concerted effort to use Mississippi businesses on government contracts," said MDA's Richard Speights. "Look at the number of buildings we have to demolish, how many have to be rebuilt. We have to get our tradesmen ready to accept this work."
But the disparity between damage in Jackson County and points west has the different chambers dealing with a spectrum of issues, from Pass Christian's attempts to site businesses that only exist in memory to Jackson County's attempts to get a fax machine for a greeting card store.
Communication failures are creating a huge obstacle where the hurricane did the most damage, said Tish Williams, director of Hancock County's Chamber of Commerce.
"It's back down to the old town crier way of doing things," she said. "Here ye, here ye, come to the job center because the bridge loan program is here!"
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 Posted on Tue, Nov. 01, 2005
   Pennsylvania teens bring homecoming to Mississippi coast schools
KATHY HANRAHAN   Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. - Some Good Samaritan teenagers from Pennsylvania are helping students at two Mississippi Gulf Coast high schools set aside their Katrina troubles to celebrate homecoming together.
Some 40 students from Lampeter-Strasburg High School in Lancaster, Pa., are arriving on the hurricane-ravaged coast this week with at least $35,000 in donated money and $15,000 in supplies to provide an elaborate gala for Long Beach and Pass Christian high schools.
"It is going to put some pieces of my life back together," said Jayson Gordon, an 18-year-old Long Beach senior who has been longing for some semblance of normality since his house was destroyed in the Aug. 29 storm.
Katrina plowed across Mississippi's 80 miles of shoreline, splintering homes and businesses with 145-mile-an-hour winds and a storm surge that reached 30 feet in some places. Two months after the storm, the landscapes of Long Beach and Pass Christian are still largely unrecognizable, with landmarks missing and centuries-old live oak trees toppled.
Like Gordon, many students at Long Beach are homeless and living in temporary quarters. The Long Beach campus was damaged, but classes have resumed. Pass Christian High School was so heavily damaged that students are having class in portable buildings at a local elementary school.
Homecoming festivities in the past have always been financed by student fundraisers. That wasn't an option this year.
So when the Pennsylvania school adopted Long Beach and asked how their students could help, Susan Whiten, the Long Beach school's principal, suggested hosting a homecoming dance.
And when the Pennsylvania school heard that neighboring Pass Christian High School was also heavily damaged, students decided to adopt that school, too. Pass Christian held its homecoming game last Friday and it is Long Beach's homecoming opponent this Friday.
Students in the Pennsylvania school district have created T-shirts featuring the logos of both schools. They are bringing in a deejay, and the owner of a local grocery store in Pennsylvania has agreed to provide the food. What is normally an event with homemade sandwiches has blossomed into a catered gala with shrimp.
A photographer will provide free pictures. The gym will be decorated in both schools' colors: red and blue for the Pass Christian Pirates and maroon and white for the Long Beach Bearcats.
In three weeks of collecting donations, Lampeter-Strasburg students also secured pricey door prizes that could help replace some items lost in the hurricane, including Playstation 2's, mountain bikes and CD players.
Pennsylvania students also donated about 400 party dresses. Another 100 dresses were sent courtesy of Auburn University's equestrian team.
Sydney Fitzgerald, a 16-year-old junior at Long Beach, was left without a dress after much of her home was washed away. Fitzgerald and a friend searched through the donated dresses to find one that was a little loose, perfect for alterations to be made.
"When I was looking at the dresses, it amazed me at how many people wanted us to get our minds off of this stuff and get on with a regular school year," Fitzgerald said.
Gordon said his homecoming date also lost everything in the storm. She plans to search through the dresses to find the right one, but Gordon said: "I have no idea what to wear."

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Posted on Mon, Oct. 31, 2005
'A real godsend'
By ROBIN FITZGERALD
GULFPORT - Law enforcement officers from Kansas came to Harrison County expecting to sleep in tents while here to assist local officers in hurricane recovery.
For the second Kansas group to arrive - 65 officers from 15 jurisdictions around Kansas City - several surprises were in store. For one, most have had more-comfortable accommodations, such as a senior-citizen center in Lyman. No shower, but substantial shelter, said Maj. Doug Dunn of the Overland Park Police Department.
His officers are among hundreds from dozens of agencies nationwide whose help has been coordinated from a Unified Command Center operating from a double-wide trailer near the Harrison County Jail.
Widescale looting and crumbled infrastructure after Hurricane Katrina created a chaos the area's storm-crippled law enforcement agencies admitted they were unable to control. Within 10 days, about 1,000 officers had arrived to help. To maximize their help, officials realized they needed to coordinate the visitors' efforts and meet their needs for food, fuel and a place to sleep, said Sheriff George H. Payne Jr.
That's the job of the Unified Command Center, set up by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and turned over to representatives of the Sheriff's Department, police agencies from Biloxi to Pass Christian and the Mississippi Highway Patrol.
"These people have been a real godsend," Payne said. "For a while, we were having 100 wrecks a day countywide, which is manpower-draining. These visiting officers have helped us more than anybody could have ever imagined."
The number of visiting officers dropped to about 400 in September and to 120 this month. In November the count will drop to 50 officers, and by month's end the Command Center may no longer be needed, Payne said.
Dunn, 46, has taken over for Kansas City Police Chief James Corwin, who was in charge of the first Kansas group to arrive. Like Corwin, who has more than 1,200 sworn officers back home, Dunn supervises Kansas officers here and works as a patrol officer. He backs up local officers by responding to calls such as wrecks and domestic disputes.
"The work hasn't been bad at all," said Dunn, whose group arrived after other officers - and gun-toting residents - scared off looters, and most curfews lifted.
But seeing the widespread destruction in person is quite different from limited looks from national news reports, Dunn said.
"We had no idea how bad the devastation was."
Dunn said the general public has made visiting officers feel welcome. On Friday, he recalled dining at a restaurant with about seven or eight other officers. When they went to pay their bill, they were told someone had paid it for them.
His group leaves for home today. They will be replaced by 47 officers from around Kansas City.
"This is real humbling," said Payne. "We have gotten by with the goodwill of America."
Sheriff George H. Payne Jr.

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Posted on Mon, Oct. 31, 2005     
BEFORE AND AFTER
East Second Street in Pass Christian
The Creole cottage at 239 East Second St. is not one of the antebellum splendors that made Pass Christian an architectural wonder, but its role as one of the charming homes that created an interesting mix of people and places is obvious.
Amanda and Darryl Breckenridge agreed to open their house for the 2002 Spring Pilgrimage because they loved their cottage nestled on a woodsy acre, replete with wildflowers, persimmon trees and wild critters - owls, bunnies, 'possums.
When the Breckenridges bought it eight years ago, they heard it likely began as a two-room cottage in the late 1850s and was later enlarged, including by the Scoper family who had a son in the state Senate and who moved there in 1941.
The house, whatever its history, was well built and didn't fall apart when 11 feet of Katrina surge flooded to the inside crown moulding and swept it off its foundation. The attic, miraculously, stayed dry.
"It was like a little ark that floated about 40 feet to the north before it was stopped by a tree," said Darryl Breckenridge, a bank officer. "It rested on an uneven surface that punched holes in the floor, and the water and mud came in.
"The front part could possibly be put together on piers, but we don't know. Engineers haven't seen it yet."
The Breckenridges are like thousands of others with uncertainties.
"But we're not getting rid of that property anytime soon," Amanda Breckenridge said. "We've still got the persimmons and my Blood Lily has bloomed. We've seen raccoon tracks, so that's a hopeful sign. There is some rebirth happening."
- KAT BERGERON

Before, the home of Darryl and Amanda Breckenridge at 239 E. Second St. in Pass Christian in 2002. After, the Breckenridge home devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
Home of Darryl and Amanda Breckenridge in September, after Hurricane Katrina.
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Posted on Sun, Oct. 30, 2005
A top rebuilding priority is affordable housing
By GOV. WILLIAM WINTER (1980-84)
A SUN HERALD FORUM
     Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina tens of thousands of Mississippians must start over from scratch. So many people lost everything and they are now forced to rebuild their homes and their lives.
Shortly after the storm, Gov. Haley Barbour asked me to serve on the Governor's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal chaired by Jim Barksdale and given the challenge to begin addressing South Mississippi's long-term needs.
     I am greatly encouraged by the early progress our state is making in this effort, but I especially want to emphasize the need to make affordable housing a top priority in this recovery process.
     As we undertake the effort to meet the overwhelming need for housing, we must remember that safe and affordable housing must be a paramount concern. At the same time, we must preserve the character of damaged neighborhoods, and focus our attention on those who need our help most - citizens in low-income areas, senior citizens, and workers who do not have their own cars to drive to work.
     Some of the hardest hit communities are in low-lying areas and were devastated by Katrina's flood surge. Waveland, Pass Christian, Pearlington and neighborhoods such as Turkey Creek and Point Cadet especially need our help to successfully rebuild and maintain their proud heritage.
     These historic areas remain particularly vulnerable, and they deserve our very best planning efforts as they begin to recover and rebuild.
     It is clear that some hard decisions will have to be made about rebuilding in some of the lower elevations, but we must ensure that the people of these communities have safe, affordable and attractive housing options that preserve the fabric of their communities.
     Let me share with you some of the ideas that the Commission has been considering to address our challenges in the area of housing.
• The Commission will present plans that encourage a variety of modular and prefabricated housing and reflect the Coast's unique architectural history whenever possible.
     Mobile home plants need to reopen near the Coast to meet the urgent need. Habitat for Humanity, Youth Build and other nonprofit organizations can help us get started.
     We are also offering simplified house shapes and pre-approved house plans that will make it easier and cheaper to get new building projects started.
• New zoning laws may be required to allow outbuildings and temporary housing on a single-family site. This will allow families to return to neighborhoods and rebuild their permanent houses while living nearby.
• We suggest a system of creative permitting that allows people to live close to goods and services and thus reduce transportation needs. There are ideas for medium- and high-density housing developments, and for people to live and work above professional office and retail space.
• We must not let temporary solutions become permanent problems.
      We have learned from Hurricane Andrew about the mistake of building huge mobile home parks. These were expected to be only "temporary" but today remain blighted areas 15 years after that storm. FEMA wants to help Mississippi avoid this problem by limiting these sites to 200 or fewer units and by providing a neighborhood layout with a village center.
• The Commission is discussing with private-sector leaders how their companies might participate in helping ensure there is sufficient attractive, affordable housing and we are encouraged by the positive response.
     The governor and the Commission are also looking for big-picture solutions through legislation and by working with federal agencies. Gov. Barbour has been diligently working with our congressional delegation in an effort to ensure that the federal legislation package that Congress is considering adequately provides for the urgent needs of Mississippi, with a particular emphasis on housing.
     I encourage you to visit www.governorscommission.com on the Internet, attend a Governor's Commission meeting in your area and support your local officials as they look for solutions.
     I am encouraged that people from all walks of life are rallying together in our hour of greatest need. I am proud of our state's response and urge all of our citizens to join this effort to bring renewal to all of Mississippi's battered and devastated communities.

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Posted on Sun, Oct. 30, 2005
Getting in the spirit
Kids get to set aside Katrina, celebrate
By JOSHUA NORMAN
jdnorman@sunherald.com
PASS CHRISTIAN - John Parker bugged his mom, Susan, all week to take him to the Pass Christian Halloween celebration at War Memorial Park on Saturday.
The Lizana Elementary student heard about it in school and knew it would be one of the few opportunities to celebrate what is many children's favorite holiday.
So, Parker, 11, dressed up his terrier, Rocketman, like a devil, and got to spend the day bouncing around on inflatable obstacle courses and slides, face painting and pinata whacking.
Parker was joined by at least 1,000 residents from Pass Christian and surrounding communities eager to put aside cleanup and recovery for at least an afternoon.
The event was sponsored by Pass Christian's city officials, Wal-Mart, "Good Morning America" and Sun Audio Rentals owner Chris Papania.
"We never realized until recently what it would be like for the kids," said Brian Thomas, district manager for Wal-Mart. "We were part of the community long before the storm. We wanted to do something special."
Thomas said families came out and took photos next to the flowers and hay stacks while they were setting up because there had been a general lack of flowers and colors in the Pass until that point.
"Good Morning America" and one of its hosts, Robin Roberts, a Pass native, filmed the event for the show.
"Halloween... you just don't let it pass," Roberts said, adding many kids cannot trick-or-treat this year because of the debris and ruined neighborhoods.
When Roberts was a kid, she said she felt sheltered from the scope of Hurricane Camille's devastation and that she was eager to help give kids a sense of normalcy.
In addition to the kids' stuff, Papania set up a stage near Scenic Drive where people soaked up the sunshine and sang along to easy-listening songs played by Red Velvet and other bands.
Papania said this would be the first of several free concerts along the Coast to thank the many volunteers helping out.
"It's a lot more fun than a paying gig," said Lorinda Daniels, Red Velvet's lead singer. "People are just trying to relax."
Echo Myers leads her children, Gavin Myers, 2, and Caleigh Myers, 3, across Second Street in Pass Christian on Saturday afternoon with Caroline Boudreaux, back left, Alyssa Jeffries, 5, Andrea Jeffries and Dontae Bailey, 7, on their way to a special Halloween party sponsored by ABC's 'Good Morning America.' The party at War Memorial Park was a welcomed respite for folks rebuilding their lives.
'Good Morning America' co-host Robin Roberts, a native of Pass Christian, helps Zoe Sanders, 10, clean off after Zoe won a cake-eating contest.
Gabby Mattox, 2, looks around at all the costumes and excitement while being held by her grandmother, Kris Inabinett of Vancleave, while attending the Pass Christian Halloween celebration.
Above,
Jayme Austin, 25, and her sister, Rebecca Dill, 9, thought it appropriate to dress as a bottle of water and an MRE on Saturday at the Pass Christian Halloween celebration.
Left, John Parker and Rocketman.

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Posted on Wed, Oct. 26, 2005
Pass Christian to Wal-Mart: Come back
Town leaders count on retailer for much-needed sales tax income
By GEOFF PENDER and JOSHUA NORMAN
SUN HERALD
PASS CHRISTIAN - Pass Christian leaders see Wal-Mart's return as a key to rebuilding after Katrina, and anxiously await a decision from the "Big Box."
Pass Christian Mayor Billy McDonald said the parent company applied for a privilege license Tuesday, which is the first step in the process of rebuilding, and he said this is a positive sign.
"I don't think they'd be getting a privilege license if they meant to build elsewhere," McDonald said. "I have a good feeling that they want to return."
There were persistent rumors that Wal-Mart - the largest single contributor to Pass Christian's sales tax base - may leave town or close, said Pass Christian Alderman-at-large Chip McDermott.
"They've told us they wanted to see where the people are going, the customers," McDermott said. "Housing is the big problem right now. They want to see if people will be returning here or moving north or west or whatever."
Fortunately for the town's planners, it appears the mega-company thinks the Pass will be able to support another store from the world's largest retail giant.
And Glen Watkins, a Wal-Mart spokesman for the southeast region that includes Mississippi, said the company is very interested in staying in Pass Christian.
Wal-Mart generated about $1 million a year for the city, which had a pre-Katrina operating budget of about $6 million.
Wal-Mart had been generating about $60,000 a month in sales taxes for the city, nearly double Pass Christian's sales tax collections before the store opened two years ago.
The city also relies on Wal-Mart revenues to pay back $2 million it borrowed for infrastructure through "tax increment financing."
McDermott said the many people asking City Hall to get water, sewerage and other services back up makes him hopeful residents will return and rebuild in the Pass, and that its economy will recover.
McDonald said Wal-Mart is not alone in believing the Pass will rebuild. Dollar General and BP also contacted City Hall this week about building again.

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Posted on Wed, Oct. 26, 2005
HOMECOMING '05
Out-of-state students rescue the dream
By MELISSA M. SCALLAN
mmscallan@sunherald.com
LONG BEACH - When students at Lampeter-Strasburg High School in Lancaster, Pa., heard about the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, they decided immediately to help.
Their first plan was to send school supplies to Long Beach, but the project quickly became much bigger.
Next week, 26 students will board a chartered bus and head for South Mississippi, bringing with them decorations, food, flowers, music and a photographer so that students in Long Beach and Pass Christian can celebrate homecoming.
"It really has turned out to be incredible," said Matt Cooper, a teacher and sponsor of a community-service club at the Pennsylvania high school. "It just blossomed into something really neat."
Pass Christian is playing Pearl River Central for its homecoming game Friday night at the Long Beach football stadium. Long Beach will play Pass Christian for Long Beach's homecoming Nov. 4. The two schools will hold a joint homecoming dance Nov. 5 that will be featured on ABC's "Good Morning America."
Every school in the Pennsylvania district has raised money and gotten donations from local businesses. They have printed T-shirts and plastic footballs for students in Long Beach and Pass Christian that contain each school's logo and colors.
Last Friday, Cooper mailed 400 prom dresses for the girls, and by Monday students had raised $21,000 in cash and nearly that same amount in donations. The South Mississippi students also are getting help from other areas.
The student council at North Newton High in Morocco, Ind., sent $1,500 to help with homecoming expenses, and the Auburn University equestrian team sent 100 dresses for the girls. Erin Gaddy, a member of the team, graduated from Long Beach High in 2002.
Katrina destroyed many schools and with it the hope for a normal school year and many special events. The donations and help have given the students something to be excited about.
"They came back to school very quiet and unsure of what was happening," said Peggy Lassabe, a teacher at Long Beach and a student council sponsor. "We were told there was no money for anything - no homecoming, no prom and no annual - mainly because there are no businesses to sponsor anything."
The Pennsylvania students will arrive in South Mississippi on Nov. 3, and they will tour the damaged schools in this area. During the football game Friday night they will decorate the gym and the cafeteria. The theme for the dance is "Hollywood Nights."
Saturday morning, they will prepare the food that will be served in the cafeteria during the dance, because restaurants aren't open.
Some students from Lampeter-Strasburg High said they are looking forward to meeting the students here and helping them out.
"I put myself in their shoes, and if something like that happened to me, I would hope other people would help," said Emily Duncan, a senior at the school. "I think it will be an eye-opening experience."

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Posted on Tue, Oct. 25, 2005
Stennis crewmen pitch in to help area
By MICHAEL NEWSOM
mmnewsom@sunherald.com
BAY ST. LOUIS - Ties to Mississippi for the sailors of the USS Stennis are deeper than just having a ship named for the former U.S. senator.
About 53 volunteers from the ship have been working in Pass Christian, Bay St. Louis and Waveland clearing debris, gutting houses and moving refrigerators, among other chores. The crew of the Stennis adopted the state, since it was named after former Mississippi Sen. John C. Stennis.
While in South Mississippi, the volunteers from the USS Stennis, which is homeported in Bremerton, Wash., live at Stennis Space Center and have even worked on Stennis Road in Pass Christian, an irony the sailors recognize.
The sailors are working as volunteers, but were given transportation to the Coast on military flights.
The work in Mississippi is a homecoming for one Stennis volunteer.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Smith of Bay St. Louis worked on his uncle's house yesterday with his shipmate, Seaman Michael Thompson of Moorhead City, N.C.
The sailors gutted the inside of Kevin Pokallus' home on Washington Street in Bay St. Louis, which they say had four feet of water on the first floor.
"This house, hopefully we can get it today. We start around 8:30 (a.m.) and finish about 6:30 (p.m.). We have to go to muster before we start and eat breakfast, so that takes some time," Smith said. "If we could work from sunup to sundown, we would."
The home's owner said he was grateful for the work his nephew and shipmates have done.
"If you're cataloguing these boys' adventures, they are doing a wonderful job," Pokallus said.
Smith and Thompson said they have gutted two homes since starting the work Friday. The 53 volunteers have been split in two four- and five-member teams.
Lt. Cory Barker, a Navy public affairs officer, said the sailors will be on the ground in South Mississippi for quite sometime.
"I can tell you the need is going to be there for quite a long time," Barker said. "These sailors are absolutely amazing. They work until they drop and then get up and do it all over again."
Barker said that in addition to the debris removal work, the sailors worked alongside the members of the Pass Christian High School softball team to help them clear their field and fix the outfield fences to prepare for the coming season. The sailors also have worked at distribution points, passed out food and supplies, and cleaned up Pass Christian High School's football field.
Barker said the Stennis, an aircraft carrier christened in 1993, is the only ship in the U.S. fleet named after a senator. It carries a crew of 5,000.

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Posted on Tue, Oct. 25, 2005
Boats return to Pass Harbor
By ROBIN FITZGERALD
rfitzgerald@sunherald.com
The return of boats to the Pass Christian Harbor gives a glimmer of hope for oyster harvesters, but means a delay in opening the harbor's rental slips to the public.
The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources has hired about 60 oyster harvesters to help refurbish oyster beds destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
Harvesters report to Pass Harbor Master Willie Davis, who said he is eager for the work to be completed. Before Katrina, the harbor held about 400 vessels.
"We lost about 50 percent of the slips," said Davis. "We've found some picnic tables and hope to set them up in a parking lot soon so families can come out and get some pleasure from the area."
The hurricane hit at peak shrimping season and around the start of the oyster season. Using harvesters to map the reefs will give them a daily wage as they help assure a future harvest, said DMR Shellfish Biological Program Coordinator Bradley Randall.
Harvesters will work in pairs, recording data and using cane poles to determine the locations of live and buried oyster beds. The program began Monday.
The harbor could reopen in about three months, shortly after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredges the area, according to Davis.

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Posted on Tue, Oct. 25, 2005
Oyster harvesting resumes in Louisiana and Mississippi
Associated Press
UNDATED - Louisiana oysters are coming back.
Eight weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit, harvesting has gotten under way.
Katrina's landfall in late August didn't affect beds in west Louisiana. They were closed as a precaution when Hurricane Rita approached in late September.
The beds in the eastern half of the state were tested and retested to ensure they were clean of chemicals or germs from the water that was pumped out of New Orleans or run off of other areas.
Meanwhile, it's a similar story in Mississippi, oyster harvesters have returned to the Pass Christian Harbor.
The Mississippi
Department of Marine Resources has hired about 60 oyster harvesters to help refurbish oyster beds destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The harvesters are reporting to Harbormaster Willie Davis, who says he's eager for the work to be completed.
Harvesters will work in pairs, recording data and using cane poles to determine the locations of live and buried oyster beds.
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Posted on Mon, Oct. 24, 2005
'We're in this together'
Parishioners attend Mass at St. Paul's for first time since Katrina
By RYAN LaFONTAINE   rlafontaine@sunherald.com
Instead of the usual choir, Mass started with a loud whistle blow about 15 minutes behind schedule, while locals swapped stories of survival and loss.
"Forgive me if I get choked up, but I want to thank you," Rev. Dennis Carver told the congregation. "We're in this together; we pray together and we love together."
Many of the churchgoers carried their own chairs. The wooden church pews and brick walls are gone, likely mixed into the rubble pile from the parish elementary school behind the church.
About 70 percent of the Pass was destroyed, and while most of these parishioners grapple with rebuilding their homes, a new challenge could soon face the St. Paul's community.
Biloxi Diocese officials plan to hold a series of "listening sessions" to hear from more than 60,000 Catholics, before Bishop Thomas Rodi decides where to rebuild the 20 churches that were destroyed or damaged, including St. Paul.
The first meeting was held last week in Pass Christian, where parishioners told the Bishop they wanted the church rebuilt in the same location it has occupied since 1847.
Catholic Charities USA has donated $3 million to the diocese and businessman Joseph Canizaro added $1 million, but Rodi said most of the money could not be used for rebuilding, only humanitarian aid.
Rodi recently told the Sun Herald there are three churches and three full-time priests in the Pass, but only 850 families.
"We pray for Bishop Rodi who is challenged by many difficult decisions," Deacon Bill Vrazel told the St. Paul crowd on Sunday.
Carver said Katrina broke the town's heart, but the storm has taught the community to love "very deeply."
"Our town is gone," he said. "We want our school back; our homes and our shady streets."
Church members have expressed to Bishop Thomas Rodi of the Biloxi Diocese a strong desire to rebuild St. Paul's.
Father Dennis Carver received a gift from visiting pastor, Father Timothy Kelleher, during Mass. Father Kelleher and members of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church of Walpole, Mass., came to pledge support and rebuilding assistance to St. Paul's.

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Posted on Sun, Oct. 23, 20
Heart of Pass Christian
City attorney crucial to town's survival
By JOSHUA NORMAN  jdnorman@sunherald.com
PASS CHRISTIAN - Malcolm Jones walked out of the Gulfport Courthouse with his head down and his feet dragging slightly. It had been another long day for Jones, Pass Christian's city attorney, chief administrative officer and main mover and shaker since Hurricane Katrina leveled the city of 8,000.
Jones, 49, just wanted to get home, forget about his 16-hour workdays and get ready for a much-anticipated trip to visit one of his daughters, Mallory, 18, at Duke University in North Carolina for parents' weekend.
Yet Jones still had time to put a smile on the face of one of the janitors sweeping the hallway.
Good thing all those strangers are gone, Jones said with a big grin, you can finally get some work done, right?
Darn right, replied the janitor while letting out a little guffaw.
Jones said he really appreciated their hard work, especially considering what they had been through in the last month and a half.
Jones himself has not exactly had it any easier.
Since the fourth day after the storm, Jones has been working nearly nonstop as the day-to-day operations manager making sure that Pass Christian does not pass into extinction.
Saving a small town from a hurricane's destructiveness is not exactly the job description of a typical city attorney. Jones, however, is perfectly suited for it, said several friends and colleagues.
Jones, a Gulfport native, was raised in Pass Christian. His mother raised him and his three siblings after his father died.
An uncle, C. Randall Jones Jr., was Pass's city attorney for several years and it was this influence that led Jones to enroll in the University of Mississippi's Law School after graduating from USM in 1978. After getting his law degree in 1981, Jones clerked for the Mississippi Supreme Court for a year, where he met his wife.
In 1985, Jones became city attorney for the first time and left the post in 1989 when the city's administration changed.
When Billy McDonald became mayor in the early 1990s, Jones started helping out with city affairs again. By 1993, he was given the post of city attorney officially. At least 70 percent of his professional energies were devoted to that job until Katrina struck.
The Joneses evacuated to Vicksburg the Friday before the Monday storm, Jones said, because he did not want to chance staying at their Scenic Drive home.
Jones said it took him until Sept. 1 to make it back to his house, where he discovered major wind and rain damage, but a structure that could be repaired. Early the next day, he decided to see what there was to be done.
"I went to the fire station on 2nd Street, "Jones said. He gets choked up to this day when taking about the heroics of the Pass's firefighters and police he learned of upon arrival.
Mayor McDonald had done a damage assessment after the storm with both chiefs, Jones said, but had taken his ill wife to Baton Rouge.
"We couldn't get the mayor on the phone," Jones said. "Nothing was coming or going. We needed someone to take charge. I said, 'Look guys, I'll take charge.'
The chiefs and later the town's aldermen said they were all too eager to give Jones the formal power to make some of the most critical decisions in Pass Christian's history.
His task has been formidable: At least 80 percent of all homes were at least rendered unlivable. The water and sewer lines were crippled. Bodies have been pulled out of the rubble as recently as Wednesday. The police department lost all but three vehicles. The school system lost all but one school.
Despite the problems, Jones has not missed a beat and the city is now inching toward livability.
"He's a scrapper," said Joe Hudson, a Gulfport attorney who has been working with Jones for more than two decades. "I associate him with a number of things. He's hard working, smart, conscientious. He knows how to talk with people. Not every lawyer knows that. He's got a lot of quiet strength. (The Pass) couldn't have a better person than Malcolm."
Jones had a large part in the decision to shut down access to Pass Christian for everyone not already there for several days after the storm - a move that enraged some residents but put a near immediate halt to any looting problems and sped up the ability of public works crews to get their jobs done.
He said he also worked tirelessly figuring out some way to make sure the 500 or so homes that were livable had water and sewer before FEMA demanded that they be evacuated.
"I've had to become very direct," Jones said, adding that he regrets any toes he may have stepped on as a result. "What is your problem? Here is your solution. I'm normally not that way, but my idea of moving ahead is being decisive."
Despite the gravity of his work, several people who work with him said he has still found time to keep others calm and the mood light.
Hudson said he was with Jones at a meeting in the Emergency Operations Center after the hurricane when someone noticed a beer in the bag he was carrying with him. After a little ribbing from the group, Jones said, "Look, that's emergency beer. Don't you have some?"
Many of Jones colleagues also said that his ability to lead and get along with people of all kinds is not his strongest characteristic.
"Probably his best vocation is daddy," said Leo "Chip" McDermott, Pass Christian's alderman-at-large. "I don't think he has any other hobbies than his family and his work. He always has his girls with him."
Pass Christian has been good to his family, too, said several friends. His wife, Terri Jones, is a dentist. His four daughters, Jessica, 20, Mallory, Brittany, 17, and Chelsea, 15, have all grown up under the town's majestic oaks and family-friendly atmosphere.
Pass Christian has been such a part of his life, his family, his identity, Jones' energy for his work becomes more easily explainable.
"His heart is in Pass Christian," said McDermott, whose wife graduated from high school with Jones. "He's lived there all his life. Like the rest of us, he'll probably die in the Pass."
Jones does not let himself think that far ahead, though. For him, life is all about the more immediate task of making Pass Christian whole again.
"It's not something you chose to do, it's something you got to do," Jones said. "We're going to rise up."

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Posted Friday, Oct. 21
Sun Herald "Letters to the Editor"
     As the finest planners, designers, architects, engineers and developers in the country look with vision at rebuilding the Coast, the Mississippi Department of Transportation, under the guise of progress, goes about its business of ignoring people, wasting money and ruining lives. It is no wonder that MDOT, according to Don Hammack’s article October 17, “did not send representatives to the final few days” of the Mississippi Renewal Forum. MDOT does not want to hear from people who think high rise bridges and “interstate wide” state highways are not the answer to all our transportation woes.
Meanwhile, MDOT pushes ahead with plans to rebuild the Bay St Louis Bridge with a six-lane 80-foot high structure that winds sharply into Harrison County’s Henderson Point wiping out my wife Penny Rodrique’s business of 25 years (Mississippi Coast Fireworks, Inc). When the state takes land from private citizens there must be a compelling reason and there must be “just compensation.” In this case, there is NEITHER!
If this bridge is six lanes and 80-feet in the air, it logically follows suit that MDOT will be taking many people’s property along the coast to extend Highway 90 to six lanes from Henderson Point, to Pass Christian, to Long Beach, to Gulfport, to Biloxi, etc. But, aside from the merits of a six-lane 80-foot high bridge, MDOT is attempting to force my wife to accept pennies on the dollar of what her land AND business is worth. How in a democratic society could a person work ALL of their adult life building a business that served its customers well for 25 years and have it all taken away by the government on a moment’s notice for next to nothing.
Do not misunderstand—the Bay Bridge needs to be rebuilt as soon as possible. And, after careful consideration from elected officials and citizen input, IF a six lane 80-foot high bridge is what the COAST wants and needs, then proceed with plans. However, if those plans include the necessity of taking my wife’s property, she MUST receive “just compensation” for 25 years of hard work and investment in her Henderson Point property. MDOT should not be allowed to act as a rogue agency ruining our coastal landscape and trampling lives in the process.

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Posted on Fri, Oct. 14, 2005
In hard-hit Pass Christian, locals want to revive the quirky, small-town charm

EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS
Associated Press
PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. - Before Hurricane Katrina, this tiny strip of a coastal town had an eclectic business district with antique shops, an organic-foods store and funky jewelry boutiques shaded by a canopy of 300-year-old live oak trees.
The hurricane's deadly wind and storm surge obliterated 80 percent of the city's homes and businesses, although the oaks still raise their gnarled, leafless fingers into the sky. Folks here worry about what redevelopment might bring.
With a warm breeze blowing off the Gulf of Mexico, several local residents walked through the devastated downtown with architects, urban planners and other experts who are helping compile ideas about what "the Pass" might look like a generation from now.
The scene was repeated in 10 other communities along the coast this past week as part of a planning session sponsored by the Gov.'s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal.
The advisory group appointed by Gov. Haley Barbour is developing suggestions to help guide public officials and private investors in the massive task of reviving an 80-mile stretch of coastline ripped apart by one of the worst natural disasters in the nation's history.
Outside the tan doublewide trailer that's serving as Pass Christian's temporary city hall, Laura Hall, an urban planner from Sonoma County, Calif., tried to reassure a small cluster of locals that she and the other development experts will listen to their ideas.
"We're very committed to the beauty of the South," Hall said.
Longtime resident Martha Murphy, who's from a well-to-do oil family, has been living in a parking lot and wearing donated clothes since Katrina washed away her home just outside Pass Christian. She told Hall it's vital that the town keep its quirky charm and not become what many fear along the coast - a cluster of high-rise condominiums.
"We have to accept that the physical structure of our town is gone," said Murphy, 53. "What we refuse to accept is that the social and emotional fabric of our town is forever ripped asunder."
Katrina left tens of thousands Mississippians homeless when it blew ashore Aug. 29. It crippled the region's economy, from shrimping to gambling. Nearly seven weeks after the storm, tattered clothing still flutters in treetops.
On Thursday, planners and architects fanned out into Pass Christian and other coastal communities to ask local residents what they want their communities to look like. Are there certain structures or landmarks people want to see again? Are there some eyesores that should not be rebuilt?
Former Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale of Jackson is chairman of the governor's commission, which plans to produce a report by December. Andres Duany, a Miami architect and planner, has led the massive planning session the past few days.
Duany is getting help from colleagues in the Congress for New Urbanism, a group of architects and planners who emphasize communities that are pedestrian-friendly and that have parks, grocery stores, restaurants and other services near residential neighborhoods.
On the planning session's opening day, Duany told nearly 1,000 local elected officials and business people that they need to avoid some of the mistakes south Florida made after Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
"What we learned in Andrew is that temporary housing, for all intents and purposes, becomes permanent housing," Duany said.
Pass Christian - about halfway between New Orleans and Biloxi - is a compact town, stretching six miles from east to west and about a mile northward from the white sand beach. The city's harbor was obliterated, and many here hope the yachts and commercial shrimp and oyster boats will return quickly.
Thirteen years ago, when casinos were starting to spring up in three neighboring coastal cities, Pass Christian decided to forgo the blackjack tables and flashy neon lights to keep its tranquil atmosphere.
Many of the city's 6,750 residents are now living in tents or hammocks or trucks. Relief workers have covered the youth soccer and baseball fields with blinding white gravel and erected 80 temporary homes on the site - 16-by-32-foot structures with plywood floors, lumber frames and heavy green canvas tarps for roofs and walls. Rows of portable toilets and a trailer of portable showers stand ready for families to move in.
Next to the cluster of temporary homes is a white, air-conditioned tent the length of a football field. Three times a day, the Federal Emergency Management Agency provides meals there to relief workers, law enforcement officers contractors and destitute residents.
During the architects and planners' field trip to Pass Christian, Hall and her colleagues stood on the ruined roadbed of Scenic Drive, which had been the city's main shopping street. They unrolled maps and took extensive notes about what the area looked like before Katrina.
Pass Christian city attorney Malcolm Jones said he knows the city needs temporary housing, but: "We don't want to be a city of travel-trailers 18 months from now."
Before the hurricane, 77-year-old Billy Bourdin lived in a modest two-story building in downtown Pass Christian, about a quarter mile from the beach and just around the corner from Scenic Drive. His family business, Bourdin Brothers Plumbing and Heating, occupied the first floor and he lived upstairs.
Katrina pushed seven feet of water into the plumbing business, gutting it. For now, Bourdin is living a couple of blocks away with one of his daughters. He still doesn't have electricity or running water in his home, and four-foot mounds of debris - mattresses, dishes, faded Mardi Gras beads, unidentifiable squiggles of twisted metal - form a wall between his building and the street.
Bourdin served 25 years on the local planning commission and worries about what the new Pass Christian will look like. He thinks this might be a good time to straighten up some zoning issues. Too many residential buildings mixed into commercial areas, he said.
"It damn sure ain't going to be the same," Bourdin said, scratching the white stubble on his weather-worn face. "There's no way in the world it can come back like it was."

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Posted on Fri, Oct. 14, 2005
Residents: Make towns modern, yet neighborly

PASS CHRISTIAN - The surprise that greeted national planning experts in Pass Christian on Thursday was more than a dozen historic beach-front homes, battered but standing in defiance of the rubble that is much of the Pass in its downtown and waterfronts, including Bayou Portage.
Some of the 1800s houses that gave beach-front Scenic Drive its rare street designation on the National Register of Historic Places appear repairable.
"It's important to keep Pass Christian small and viable and keep our history in mind," said Jane Dennis, who with husband Dave serve on the city's newly formed redevelopment committee that met with the national experts Thursday. "Hopefully, homeowners will rebuild or replace and not sell out to the highest bidders."
An estimated 80 percent of the 6,500 residents lost their homes, Alderman Chipper McDermott told the planners, and because there are few places to stay, only about 800 now live there. He described the town's spirit as "indelible."
Laura Hall, a noted California urban designer, leads the experts who will make suggestions for town hall meetings, War Memorial Park, a business-residential downtown and job creation. There also is possibly an industrial park site to build wooden modular homes that pass flood zone regulations.
"We are a team committed to the beauty and culture of the South," Hall assured those who'd come to tell her group about the Pass character that lured an economic, racial and religious mix.
"People want to re-establish the city and enhance what was one of the premiere residential communities on the Mississippi Coast," said Dave Dennis, a building specialist whose family moved there in the '90s. "Jobs, schools and churches, not necessarily in that order, are the anchors that will revive this community." kbergeron@sunherald.com

BAY ST. LOUIS - National planners with the governor's commission met with local developers, city leaders and a few lifelong residents Thursday to learn about life in the Bay - before Katrina.
"Now's your chance to enhance the things you loved about this town and modify the things you weren't so happy with," said Bill Dennis, a national design team member assigned to the Bay.
Before anyone would be able to redesign the community, Dennis said he wanted to know pre-Katrina Bay St. Louis, and the people who lived here.
What were the people like? Where did they live and work? Where could they get a good meal? What were the neighborhoods like?
"This was very much a family community, and we liked to see children able to ride their bikes in the neighborhoods," said Chuck Benvenutti, a native heading the local committee to rebuild.
The planners learned about the life of local art legend Alice Mosely; they listened to a brief history of the Bay Little Theater; and some locals gave mouth-watering details of the cuisine at Old Town bistros.
Mayor Eddie Favre dispelled rumors of condos taking over the now-empty beachfront, but he and other locals seemed to agree on revamping Beach Boulevard, to add a parking lane.
"We had some congestion problems before, and now that the beach is vacant, we need to solve those problems," Favre said. "We need to basically start from scratch with the entire community."
- RYAN LaFONTAINE
rlafontaine@sunherald.com

WAVELAND - What remains of Waveland looks like it was painted with a sepia brush, and those remains glowed Thursday morning to greet five members of the Mississippi Renewal Forum.
"Things are bad everywhere," said Connecticut architect Robert Orr, as he stepped onto Coleman Avenue, "but this is... "
Orr paused, searching for words as he extended a hand to Mayor Tommy Longo, who cut him off with a smile.
"Yeah, I know. We live here," Longo said.
About 27 Wavelanders, many of them merchants, gathered in one of the Quonset huts on Coleman, some of them to vent, others to ask questions, still others to size up the visitors. Orr made it clear that he and fellow forum members Catherine Johnson, Pat Pinnell, John Massengale and Laurence Ohrbach - all from the Northeast -- were there to "hear how you live, hear what your dreams are."
The gathering did not disappoint.
Rickey Peters opened Rickey's on Coleman six years ago, and he declared startling growth of his restaurant business over that period, even without a cohesive plan for the avenue.
"It (the community) would have gotten bigger, but there was no place for it to grow," he said.
Tommy Kidd, whose business interests are along U.S. 90 north and west of Coleman, said, "Why don't we talk about all of Waveland?... the tax base is out on 90, and if the businesses out there could get their insurance money, they could reopen."
Residents want growth, but they also want that sleepy-town quality to remain. They want public beaches but with handier parking. Some of them even want condos, and in a display of the old rivalry with Bay St. Louis, someone suggested that a hometown arts community would keep Waveland artists from having to exhibit there.
- JEAN PRESCOTT
jtprescott@sunherald.com

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Posted on Thu, Oct. 13, 2005
Tulsa team adopts Pass Christian High
By MIKE WOTEN
mwoten@sunherald.com

Stars provide the only light at Pass Christian High School's McDonald Stadium these days.
That twinkle in the sky will get some much-needed assistance from Union High School in Tulsa, Okla., which has turned into bright rays of hope for the ravaged school and its athletic facilities.
Pass Christian native and now Tulsa resident Kevin Cahill read a sports report on the plight of his hometown school on The Sun Herald's Web site.
Childhood memories of Cahill, who was 12 in 1969 when Hurricane Camille wreaked havoc to Pass Christian, began to surface.
"I told the coaches and players about the suffering and devastation that was taking place in Pass Christian," Cahill said. "The (Union) team was shocked to hear the situations the student athletes were facing."
Union High School is the second largest school district in Oklahoma and the defending 6A state champion in football with state-of-the-art, million-dollar facilities for its sport teams.
"The players immediately wanted to help when Mr. Cahill brought it to our attention," Union coach Bill Blakenship said.
The idea mushroomed into a full-fledged project to send aid to help restore the athletic programs at Pass Christian.
"We have (gone) to friends and companies here in Tulsa and urged them to donate," Union senior lineman Kyle Craft said. "At first, we felt like all we can do is feel sorry for them, but we thought, 'let's do something,' and we started small, and then things really got going."
The football team and its booster club have been passing the hat at home games, where they enjoy crowds that top 10,000. The act has proven to be quite beneficial to the relief effort.
"We are trying to help them with equipment and with restoring their playing field that was submerged under 12 feet of saltwater," Blakenship said.
The effort involves all of the athletic programs at Pass Christian, as the school suffered catastrophic damage to almost the entire system.
"The students and I are very humbled by the generosity shown by the good people of Union High School," Pass Christian assistant principal Dr. Myron Labat said. "It is a real testament (and) an outstanding example of the American spirit displayed to our community."
"It is a real lesson learned in life for my players that you can make a difference in someone else's life that is less fortunate. (It) makes them see that football is just a small piece of the puzzle of life," Blankenship reflected.
Longtime Union Redskins booster Mike Lester praised Blakenship's instilling character into his players regarding the relief effort.
"He always puts God first, family second, school third and then football, and this is a perfect example of his tutelage," Lester said.
The vagabond Pirates will play their homecoming game at Lumpkin Stadium in Long Beach as their only home date, Pirate coach Kelly Causey announced on Monday.
"I don't know how to tell all of the people thank you for everything they have done for us," Causey said. "It has permanently shaped the players and I for the rest of our lives on how we think regarding helping someone else."
The vaunted Union High football team will wear Pirate logos on the back of their helmets as they defend their state championship on the plains of Oklahoma.
The Redskins logo of their adoptive school will also be worn on the helmets of the Pirates players when they take the field of neighboring Bay High on Friday night.
If one looks into the night sky, they will see that the Friday night lights from Union High in Tulsa are shining brightly on a beleaguered but determined group of Pass Christian Pirates.

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Posted on Thu, Oct. 13, 2005
THE LONG RUN  Pass runner puts Katrina in rearview
By DOUG BARBER/
PASS CHRISTIAN
dmbarber@sunherald.com
Pass Christian's Cory McGee is on the run, dodging debris on Dale Road and Menge Avenue while setting new time records in cross country.
The 13-year-old, 8th-grader from Pass Christian won her initial cross country race of the 2005 season at Mississippi College on Saturday, posting a course record of 14.44.
On Saturday at East Central, she will take part in her first District VIII race of the season.
This takes place, of course, in the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina.
The McGees evacuated to Pensacola before the hurricane, then returned the following Tuesday to find their house still standing amidst fallen trees. But two close family members lost their homes.
Cory trained in Texas and New Mexico during the ensuing six weeks, and turned down the opportunity to stay in Texas to return to her friends at Pass Christian Middle School.
McGee enjoyed running against the Class 5A competition at Mississippi College last weekend.
"I knew what to expect from the course because I ran it last year," she said. "I've been going up to Hattiesburg and training on the hills, so I was ready for the hills.
"I didn't think about the course record. I was surprised I got the course record. It was a lot better than my time of last year.
"I liked the run. I had never run against anyone but 4A runners so I got to go against the Tupelo girls."
Interestingly, McGee hasn't even gotten a chance to attend her first class at Pass Christian Middle School since the hurricane. Katrina destroyed her school and all the students in Pass Christian - elementary, middle school and high school - are attending classes in DeLisle. Middle School and high schoolers start class Monday.
When Katrina hit, the first cross country meet was still six days away. So the season has been abbreviated. After the East Central Meet on Saturday, Ocean Springs will host a meet. Then the District VIII meet will be held at East Central on Oct. 29, followed by the state meet at Jackson on Nov. 5.
Since returning to Pass Christian, Cory will run two miles in the morning, then three to five miles in the evening while training for her unofficial coach, her dad Jim McGee. Often her mother, Shauna, or her friend Sarah Ann Boddie will ride a bicycle behind her for protection from the trucks.
She also has been training with Yousri Elmejdoubi of Morocco, a long distance runner who lives and works in Hattiesburg. Yousri, as he is called, pushes the runners. One of his training routines includes eight 400-meter runs with intervals of 90 seconds.
While she has been dodging debris and trucks carrying debris, she also had a close encounter with some wildlife in New Mexico during the evacuation period after Katrina.
"One time myself and my sister Devin were running up this sand hill and when we got to the top, we saw two rabbit-like things," Cory said. "We followed them, and when we got to the top of another hill, we saw a coyote down there. Devin started screaming and we got back to the house real fast."
McGee enjoyed a superb summer of running, setting age records and getting gold medals at the Junior Olympics in New Orleans.
Now she takes aim on the District VIII and Class 4A titles, and that task starts with learning the course at East Central on Saturday.

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Posted on Tue, Oct. 11, 2005
Bush: Resources coming for Coast recovery
By ANITA LEE
calee@sunherald.com
DeLISLE - In his eighth visit to the Coast, President George Bush, accompanied by wife Laura, reassured officials in a meeting at DeLisle Elementary School that the federal government would provide more resources for the recovery process.
Bush's visit delighted students at the school, where Pass Christian Elementary students, who lost their school, have joined those from DeLisle. Next week, Pass Christian High and Middle schools will open on the campus.
Bush congratulated Pass Christian High School on its status at a Blue Ribbon School, one of four in Mississippi that recently achieved the national recognition for excellence.
Pass Christian school officials put in a word with Bush, asking that school districts be given a chance to apply for the same low-interest federal loans being made available to local governments devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane is expected to drastically shrink the Pass Christian School District's budget because the city's business tax base was wiped out.
In addition to school officials, Gov. Haley Barbour, U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, Harrison County Supervisor Bobby Eleuterius, Pass Christian Mayor Billy McDonald and city attorney Malcolm Jones met with Bush before he toured the school, shaking hands with students and staff members.
As the Bushes walked into a kindergarten class, the president greeted teacher's aide Tamara Cole, then said, "This is my wife, Laura."

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Posted on Tue, Oct. 11, 2005
RESILIENCE LESSON
President, first lady observe 'the spirit of rebuilding'
By ANITA LEE
calee@sunherald.com
DELISLE - President Bush and his wife, Laura, witnessed the Coast's resilience Tuesday in this small community in the Pass Christian School District, where students from four schools are coming together on one campus.
On his eighth visit to South Mississippi, Bush pledged continued federal support as he talked privately with U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, a Democrat, Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, Public Safety Commissioner George Phillips, local political leaders and school officials in the DeLisle Elementary School cafeteria.
U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling also accompanied the Bushes to DeLisle, where elementary students started school Monday, six weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated Pass Christian.
While the adults talked, second-graders squirmed in the courtyard and practiced their hellos. The media, corralled in a corner, watched as the Bushes emerged from the meeting to greet the children and their teachers.
"I had a dream that I was the president," 7-year-old Alexzandra McDowell of Pass Christian told Bush as he bent over to shake her hand. The president smiled and told her enthusiastically, "You know, some day you may be."
The Bushes also visited several classrooms, where DeLisle and Pass Christian Elementary students now study together. The combined enrollment is 550, down from 905 before the storm.
Next week, Pass Christian High and Middle School students start class in modular buildings on the campus.
Bush offered his only public statement in a kindergarten classroom after he greeted the teachers and students. He noted that Pass High recently was named a national Blue Ribbon School, a benchmark for excellence.
"Part of the health of the community is a school system that is vibrant and alive," Bush said. "This school district is strong. It's a sign that out of the rubble here on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi is rebuilding, the spirit of rebuilding."
The Bushes spent about an hour at DeLisle Elementary, where teachers and students have been preparing since last week for the visit.
The teachers and students painted posters for the courtyard and Teresa Burton, the school district's technical coordinator, composed a computer show that visibly moved the Bushes during their meeting in the cafeteria. Photographs showed the schools before and after the storm, while a Ray Charles recording, "God Bless America," played in the background.
The hurricane gutted Pass Christian Elementary School, obliterated Pass Christian Middle School and swamped Pass Christian High with 18 feet of water.
After Bush left, Pass High Principal Cathy Broadway, who earned state principal of the year honors, said, "I got out of it that he understands the needs we have." She said Bush is proud the students are already back to school, and so is she.
"We're just going to make it work," Broadway said. "We're going to keep our expectations for students high."
During the meeting, Bush asked about local needs. He heard about the housing shortage and the need for more FEMA trailers for students and teachers, said Pass Christian School Superintendent Sue Matheson.
"He was very warm," Matheson said. "He was very generous and he seemed genuinely concerned for everyone here."
She was amazed that the president came to the DeLisle community, "just a little dot on the map in the United States."
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Posted on Tue, Oct. 11, 2005
Schools set blue-ribbon standard
By LYNN LOFTON
SUN HERALD
Three South Mississippi schools are among four schools in the state named No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbons Schools for 2005.
Pascagoula, Gautier and Pass Christian high schools are included in the 295 schools across the country receiving this award, according to U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.
The awards are based on students' performance on subject-area tests for the 2003-04 school year, putting these students among the top half of 1 percent of all high schools in the United States under the guidelines of No Child Left Behind. Senatobia High School is the fourth state school given this award.
The Pascagoula School District is the only district with two award-winning high schools. The principal and one teacher from each winning school have been invited to attend the national awards ceremony Nov. 10-11 in Washington.
"It's a great testament to the hard work of these students, administrators, teachers and our communities," said Pascagoula Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich, who was Gautier High School principal during the testing time for this award.
Anthony Herbert, who was principal of Pascagoula High when the tests were administered, said accolades are to be extended to the teachers for getting the job done in the classroom and the students for buying into the standards for superior performance.
Pass Christian High is working hard to reopen in modular classrooms on Monday. Principal Kathy Broadway says about half the 617 students have registered to return.
"It's all kind of bittersweet," Broadway said of the blue-ribbon award. "The storm can take our school but not what we've achieved and will continue to achieve."

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Posted on Mon, Oct. 10, 2005
President Bush to visit for eighth time
By RYAN LaFONTAINE
rlafontaine@sunherald.com
PASS CHRISTIAN - For an unprecedented eighth time, President Bush this week is planning to tour hurricane-battered areas in Louisiana and Mississippi, including a stop in the Pass.
Tuesday afternoon, he will visit DeLisle Elementary School, the one school in the Pass left standing.
Although the details of his trip won't be made final until later today, Bush is expected to spend part of the day in Covington, La., before traveling to South Mississippi.
Pass High School had recently been named a National No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon school, and the Pass School District had made giant strides in the past few years.
Today, nearly every school in Pass Christian is ruined. The historic Pass Christian Middle School was shredded, brick walls at Pass Elementary were blown away, and more than 17 feet of muddy storm water flooded the new high school campus.
Superintendent Sue Matheson said she is excited about sharing the story of Pass Christian schools with President Bush.
"We are absolutely thrilled that he's coming to DeLisle," she said. "We are very honored, and we look forward to telling him our story; not just the bad things, but the good things that have come out of this tragedy."
Pass Christian's elementary students will begin school today in several of the 56 portable classrooms installed at the city's one remaining campus, DeLisle Elementary.
All Pass Christian students are expected to begin classes there this week.
Bush
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Posted on Sun, Oct. 09, 2005
EDITORIAL

Our future is up to each and every one of us
Legislative approval of onshore casinos on the Coast is not the end of the discussion about our future, it is but the beginning.
It is now time for our own imaginations and dreams to take shape as we begin the long trek to a future of our own making.
The people of Mississippi, through their elected representatives, have spoken, and they have given the gaming industry the necessary tool to rebuild their multibillion-dollar business across our devastated shores. This was a step to provide the tens of thousands of jobs that will be the building block on which the initial burst of renewal will take place.
In the end, however, the decision about who and what we will be will emerge from the people of our land.
The charm and character of the Coast did not derive from the neon lights on casino marquees, but rather from the builders over the generations who placed their stamp, and the legacy of their family names, on the many towns sprinkled like so many diamonds of sparkling quality on the shore of Mississippi: Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Gulfport, Biloxi, D'Iberville, Ocean Springs, Gautier, Moss Point and Pascagoula.
Each community's name has a magic place in our mind. As we say each one we see images of what history had made them before the storm came and destroyed the brick and mortar, wood and glass constructed over the centuries.
Katrina took away much of the physical landscape, but the spirit of each town remains alive, and the survivors defiant and hopeful as we prepare to rebuild.
Think of each town as a beautiful painting whose canvas was wiped clean on a mean morning in August. We could forever beat our breasts and lament the loss of the beauty and the treasure that we once owned, or we can set out again to lay a brush on the palette of many colors, and create a new masterpiece.
Of course we will never forget the way we were, so we will doubtlessly choose the best of our memories to be recast in the worlds we will build. But we will also add to each place with new structures that exist now only in the richness of the imaginations of the Coast citizens who will endure the difficult rebuilding days ahead.
They will add their names to those we know from the legends of time - all those who came before.
The recovery has already begun, its victories gauged in small snapshots of progress: roads opened, electricity restored, a traffic light back in its old place.
When we have buried our dead and memorialized their lives we will accelerate the pace of comeback.
Already we have received the love and support of a caring state and nation. We have felt the outpouring of their gifts and the wish that they want us to succeed. And we will; we simply must.
We will be further aided by the great thinkers who are coming as our partners in the rebuilding effort. But it will not be their ideas that will emerge in the future. They will open their minds and help inform our own thinking, but in the end it is our hearts and our sweat that will create the new Coast.
One profound lesson that Katrina has taught us is that we will stand together, or we will not stand at all.
Out of the destruction we have seen the truth that while the Coast is many communities, and people, we are really one place - and we are all its citizens.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast has seen its landmarks recast in an unending line of rubble, but that long line is the thread that unites us in common pain and purpose.
We survivors owe it to the memory of all the lost cities of our Coast to rebuild the cherished places of our memory into a fitting memorial to our history, and a citadel of hope for future generations who will never forget who or what we are: a proud and enduring people.
The editorial above represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board: President-Publisher Ricky R. Mathews, Vice President and Executive Editor Stan Tiner, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Flora S. Point, Opinion Page Editor Marie Harris and Associate Editor Tony Biffle. Opinions expressed by columnists, cartoonists and letter writers on these pages are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board.

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Clarion Ledger – October 7, 2005
Pirates play on
Pass Christian football battles back after storm
By Rod Walker
rwalker@clarionledger.com
PASS CHRISTIAN — Sixty-two-year-old Glenda Causey won't soon forget the joy she felt last Friday as she watched the Pass Christian football team.
"I just teared up when I saw them run out on to the field," said Causey. "I was proud to see the spirit they had, even though they had no band, no cheerleaders, just the minimum they had."
Causey's son, Kelly, is the coach of a program that over the past month has pieced together its football season in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. St. Stanislaus, located in nearby Bay St. Louis, pulled the plug on its season. Pass Christian chose to play on.
"We just thought it would be good for the community and good for the kids to have an opportunity try to get back to some kind of normalcy, the ones that were still here," said Kelly Causey, in his second season. "We put out feelers to see if we could get it accomplished and we had enough interest and decided to go with it. If we didn't have more than 20 players interested, we weren't going to do it.
Causey got his 20 players. Barely. A roster that once had 48 players now has 25, including two eighth-graders who moved up. Some players who started the season with the Pirates are scattered around the country, from Washington, D.C., to Colorado.
"I bet we have at least 10 or 15 that we don't know where they are," said Causey.
Their school was destroyed and their football stadium wiped out. They're scheduled to resume school Oct. 17 in portable classrooms, and they won't play another home game this season.
Still, they're playing.
Senior running back Jaren Bowser, one of the Pirates' key players and a major college prospect, spent a week in Jackson (he played one game with Jim Hill) before returning to the Coast.
"It was very important to get back because I want to go to college and play football, so I want to be seen as much as possible," said Bowser, who has drawn interest from recruiters at Mississippi State, Ole Miss and LSU.
Teammate Joseph Prima, a junior, had reasons other than recruiting on his mind when it came to returning to the football field. The offensive lineman spent four weeks in four shelters before getting word that his team would resume play.
"I mainly spend my day now doing just a lot of clean-up work," said Prima. "I mainly just try to survive and wait until 4 (p.m.) when I can put on the pads. It kinda takes off the pressure from all the angry energy that is built up from losing everything."
The home that Prima and his family lived in was one of the estimated 80 percent in Pass Christian destroyed by Katrina. The Pirates football team lost a lot as well.
Some $10,000 worth of recently purchased weight-lifting equipment is rusting after more than 10 feet of water flooded the fieldhouse, damaging uniforms and equipment as well. A five-man blocking sled used by the offensive line has yet to be found.
"You name it, we had to borrow it or rebuy it," said Causey.
The school has gotten plenty of help. The football programs at Long Beach and d'Iberville donated equipment. The team is using helmets that were worn in the Mississippi/ Alabama All-Star football game last summer.
ABC Sports and the network's Good Morning America program have "adopted" the school, the alma mater of ABC personality Robin Roberts, a former basketball and tennis star.
According to assistant principal Myron Labat, the network has agreed to purchase a variety of athletic supplies for the school.
"Without all the help, I don't know what we would do, especially with losing all our tax base," said Labat, who also handles the duties of athletic director. "With the casinos gone and no houses in the city to pay taxes, we are in a difficult situation, so we are relying heavily on the kindness of other people."
And for those things they don't have, they improvise.
Two poles designed to hold a volleyball net now serve as football goalposts at the team's "new" practice facility.
With their home field washed away, the Pirates now operate out of a warehouse in Delisle, a rural community about eight miles from the damaged school.
The players dress in a room in the warehouse. Another room serves as the coach's offices. They practice in an adjacent field.
"It's definitely been a struggle when you go from what you had to what you have now, but that's a part of life," said Causey. "It's a lesson that these kids will learn and draw from for the rest of their lives."
Adding to the team's difficulty is a demanding schedule. Before the storm, the school had 604 students, putting it in the 4A school classification (5A is the largest) in the eyes of the Mississippi High School Activities Association.
Now there are 366 students, which would put Pass Christian in 3A. The problem is, the MHSAA only reclassifies every two years and never during a school year.
"If they stayed down that low we would take a look at reclassifying them (next season)," said Ennis Proctor, executive director of the MHSAA. "It would be very difficult to reclassify, but we are not beyond that. For those schools that have a drastic drop, we would certainly be willing to look into it. We certainly don't want to be unfair to anybody."
The Pirates went 0-10 last season but snapped a 13-game losing streak in their Aug. 26 season-opening win over Florence. A day later, the evacuations began.
"We got to celebrate one day and the next day we had to pack up," said Prima.
The Pirates have played twice since, losing 40-22 to Poplarville and 32-0 to Perry Central. Tonight, they face Picayune, the coaches' preseason pick to win the division crown.
"These kids won their opener and didn't get to go to school Monday to experience the joy of winning that game and holding their heads up," said Causey. "We put time in in the spring and summer, and then something like Katrina hits you and you have people displaced and all over the place.
"The big battle that we won is that we didn't lose any of our kids in the storm. That's what's important. Anything that we get from this point on is gravy."

Pass Christian's fieldhouse was flooded by Hurricane Katrina, forcing the Pirates' program into a nearby warehouse. The team has been forced to improvise, for example, using volleyball net posts as goalposts.
Pass Christian High and its football stadium were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. But the team has returned, playing on the road and using donated equipment. Coach Kelly Causey says, "The big battle that we won is that we didn't lose any of our kids in the storm. That's what's important. Anything that we get from this point on is gravy."
Tough losses — 25 Players on the Pass Christian roster —  down from 48 before Hurricane Katrina ravaged the town.
$10,000 Cost, in dollars, for Pass Christian High's new weight-training equipment. The weights are now covered in rust after more than 10 feet of water flooded the weight room.

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Posted Wed,Oct 5,Mayor 
Leaders consider action on mayor
Resigning, pay cut among options

PASS CHRISTIAN - Several city leaders are considering calling on Mayor Billy McDonald to step down, or at least take a pay cut.
Anthony Hall, Ward 3 alderman, said McDonald has been absent - physically or emotionally - for most of the time since Hurricane Katrina hit the Coast, a period when, he says, the city needs the mayor's leadership the most.
Except for a few houses, Hurricane Katrina flattened just about everything in this town.
Shortly after the storm, unable to reach McDonald, the board of aldermen named Malcolm Jones chief administrative officer. Jones had been the Pass city attorney.
The mayor and his wife stayed home during the storm, when his wife's blood pressure spiked, and left town the next day to find medical help.
McDonald said he stayed in Baton Rouge for three days, and has since returned to resume his duties as mayor. His wife has recovered and is also back to her job.
"In no way I'm I trying to beat on the mayor," Hall said. "If it was me and my family member was sick I would have done what I could, but I know that I still have a responsibility to the people of Pass Christian."
Other aldermen seem to agree.
Ward 2 Alderman Joe Piernas, who had a heated exchange with McDonald at a meeting two weeks ago, said the mayor attends the regular Board meetings, but he "just sits there."
"In every city along the Coast the mayor has taken an active role, but our mayor has taken a back seat," Piernas said.
On Tuesday, McDonald told the Sun Herald he believes he is doing a good job, and he suggested he is the victim of a political onslaught.
He said he has attended every meeting since he's returned, and he has no plans to resign.
Donald Moore, Ward 4 alderman, said voters elected the mayor to lead them through difficult times, and with most of this harbor town nearly extinct, now is the time for McDonald to perform.
Hall said the aldermen are angry because the mayor is paid a full-time salary to do his job, but the part-time aldermen have been doing most of the mayor's work since Aug. 29. The mayor is paid $48,100 annually; aldermen are paid $8,400.
"Why should I be getting part-time pay to do a full-time job?" Hall asked, "when he's getting a full-time check and he's not even doing a part-time job?"
Legally, the Board could ask the mayor to resign, but the decision would ultimately be McDonald's. However, the Board could vote to decrease his pay.

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Posted on Tue, Oct. 04, 2005
Harrison County projects $40M revenue loss Property,
sales tax bases decimated across the Coast

By ANITA LEE
calee@sunherald.com
Hurricane Katrina decimated property and sales tax bases across the Coast, turning public budgets into fiction for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.
Harrison County projects a revenue loss of $40 million, or 38 percent, for the coming year.
"Things are not as usual," Supervisor Larry Benefield said at a meeting Monday. "We've got to tell our people the truth. We're in a real jam."
State law compelled cities, counties and schools to adopt those budgets before the fiscal year began, and Katrina's Aug. 29 strike left no time to regroup.
City and county leaders are taking drastic measures to stave off hard times. Many governments have instituted hiring freezes. They are spending only for necessities such as storm relief, have dropped plans for capital projects, are documenting damages for FEMA and insurance reimbursement and, like their residents, hoping the state and federal governments will pitch in.
"The U.S. government gives trillions of dollars away in foreign aid," Harrison County Supervisor Marlin Ladner told his colleagues in jest Monday. "A trillion would really help us."
The policy director for U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor said Congress likely will offer relief through various packages rather than in a lump sum.
"All the people who need to be aware are aware that there's a substantial concern," said Brian Martin, who works in Taylor's Washington office. "We expect that there will be assistance for local governments - city and county governments and school districts - to help them make their bond payments, payroll and continue to provide the necessary services."
Katrina created a complicated mix of financial problems. Local boards and councils are contending with much-diminished property tax values and utility customer bases, insurance claims on public property, federal reimbursement for cleanup costs and uncertain financial futures.
"Basically we have an $11 million budget without any funding sources," said Eddie Favre, mayor of hard-hit Bay St. Louis. "Right now, the only thing we're doing is Katrina-related."
Taxes that will be collected beginning in December currently are based on property values set last January, but that could change.
"Our folks have been hit with devastating losses," said Hancock County Tax Collector and Assessor Jimmie Ladner. "To send taxes out on homes that aren't even there anymore is not going to be a pleasurable chore."
The state Legislature is considering relief this tax year for property owners. Schools and governments are unsure whether they can rely on 2005 property-tax revenues set at pre-Katrina levels. Harrison County's revenue-loss projections include a discounted property tax bill for September through December.
Schools and local governments definitely will take a wallop in 2006. Ladner estimates Hancock County lost half its property tax base to Katrina.
"When I say half," Ladner added, "I'm being conservative there. It might be a little better than that."
In addition, counties will fall short because they were unable to hold 2005 tax sales to recoup delinquent property taxes. Coincidentally, county tax sales were scheduled for Aug. 29. Hancock County's was expected to bring in $750,000. The sale has been rescheduled for Oct. 24, but Ladner is not optimistic.
"Who's going to come to a tax sale and pay taxes on property that no longer exists?" Ladner wonders.
Officials in Ocean Springs, Gautier and Pascagoula are not projecting any tax increases because of the storm. Most of the cities have halted capital improvement projects budgeted for the current fiscal year and have nixed plans for discretionary spending .
For example, Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran said the city budgeted for seven new police cars but has decided not to buy them. Fortunately, other cities across the country have donated 10 police cars to the department.
The city of Biloxi estimates that 60 to 70 percent of its total tax base - from property, sales and casino revenue - has been disrupted. The city did buy insurance that will cover six months of lost casino revenue.
Like other governments, Biloxi hopes to avoid layoffs, instead leaving positions open as employees retire or leave and shifting resources to meet demands in the post-Katrina world.
"We did all the right things before the storm." said David Staehling, Biloxi's director of administration. "We're going to be OK. Our priority right now is going to be working closely with all the business and industry in the city to help them reinvest and get that tax base back."
Margaret Baker, Tony Biffle and Robin Fitzgerald contributed to this report.

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Posted on Sat, Oct. 01, 2005
Temporary homes, built in a flash
By GEORGE PAWLACZYK
SUN HERALD
PASS CHRISTIAN - With a pneumatic hammer that can spit a nail into plywood in a microsecond, and with help from a couple of his Seabee buddies, Jason Speck can install a floor in a 32-foot long cabin in 20 minutes."That one took 10 minutes," Speck, of Chamberlain, S.D., said late Tuesday afternoon. "We can go a lot faster if they keep enough material coming to us."
The cabin will house one of 74 families who will become part of a village that 26 members of the Seabees, a specialized U.S. Navy construction unit, is building in a former public park in Pass Christian.
Leaders of this storm-wrecked South Mississippi community were searching for ways to help about 300 families from their city who have been living in local shelters since Hurricane Katrina struck.Pass Christian attorney Don Rafferty, a housing volunteer, said they wanted to give the families some semblance of privacy and dignity as they raise their children and try to put their lives back together.
Mindful of the chaos created when thousands of hurricane evacuees were jammed into the Superdome in New Orleans, a "circus tent," or communal living approach was ruled out, Rafferty said.
"In places like the Superdome, there was a feeling of frustration, heightened sensitivity and exposure to different levels of human behavior that we are trying to avoid," Rafferty said, "We're trying to provide a little bit of privacy and a little bit of dignity."
The answer: the Seabees, the military construction arm of Navy that was formed during World War II. Their motto: "We Build, We Fight."Rafferty said Harrison County housing officials met with Pass Christian City Administrator Malcolm Jones early last week, then met with Navy officials. By Sept. 23, construction began. By Monday, they expect families to move in.
Construction on two similar temporary housing areas, another in Pass Christian and the other in D'Iberville, will begin within a few days.
In addition to the housing units, said Chief Troy Emery, the team also will have completed by Monday a new Pass Christian Police Department to replace the old headquarters, a few blocks away, that was demolished.
Each family will live in a separate, cabin-like unit called a "strong-back tent" raised about three feet off the ground on wood pilings. The units are each 32 feet long and 16 feet wide, with wooden floors and walls and insulated plastic roofs supported by a lumber framework. They can be heated or air-conditioned. Each has a front and back door and stairs leading to hastily constructed streets.
A local bank has set up a small office in a recreational vehicle across the street.
A school bus is expected to show up Monday to take children to any of three area schools that have reopened.Another team of 15 Seabees is finishing two large "Sea Hut" storage buildings, where showers and laundry services for the villagers will be located.
The three communities, when completed, will house about 120 families who, said Rafferty, will be encouraged to stay as long as it takes to arrange for permanent homes. When the families move out of the units, military emergency workers can use them for housing.
No such units are scheduled for construction in hurricane-ravaged Louisiana, said Master Chief Matthew Cabral."We are willing to build there if we're called. But we haven't been asked," Cabral said.
Families from Pass Christian, followed by any family made homeless by Katrina, will have priority for the Pass Christian units.
Those families are now living at area shelters, such as the Red Cross shelter at the West Harrison Civic Center, where cots are set up about two feet apart and personal belongings must be heaped onto beds during the day.
The Seabees, whose mission is to support the Marines by filling their construction needs, have been responding with construction support to disasters in countries around the world since 1969's Hurricane Camille.Navy Chief Troy Emery of Norfolk, Va., said the crew can build quickly because the sections of each housing unit are prefabricated at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport and need only be fastened in place.
"The motivation for these guys is all around," said Emery, 39, whose wife grew up in neighboring Long Beach. "Just look at these wrecked homes. They want to work hard. They're happy to do it."

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Posted on Fri, Sep. 30, 2005
Police agencies are now organized
By ROBIN FITZGERALD
rfitzgerald@sunherald.com
GULFPORT - The creation of a Unified Command Center in Harrison County has taken an overwhelming task and made it more manageable, according to local authorities.
In the first week after Hurricane Katrina, law enforcement officers countywide were overwhelmed by thousands of looting incidents, little or no way to communicate and damaged or destroyed equipment and police stations, said Sheriff George H. Payne Jr.
The arrival of 1,000 officers from around the nation offered a tremendous relief, he said. But from a logistical standpoint, officials quickly realized it was nearly impossible to manage the sudden influx of officers and equipment. Or to get them a place for sleep or fuel, food or water if they didn't bring their own.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, experienced in hurricane response, offered to set up a Unified Command Center in Harrison County and run it until area officers could take it over.
FDLE staff left the county Thursday, leaving representatives of six police agencies on their own to identify needs, assign duties for visiting officers and compile statistics. More than 200 visiting officers are still here to help.
"This is the most effective way to utilize our outside assets to ensure that law enforcement's needs are met as well as humanitarian needs of the community," said Payne. "There is no one boss here. We're doing this together and putting our outside assets where they're needed the most."
Pass Christian, down to only two officers per shift, now has as many as 26 officers a day on duty.
The Command Center is in a doublewide mobile home equipped with satellite access, behind the Harrison County jail. Information gathered each day is compiled in a daily report for police department heads.
The reports show traffic accidents countywide have quadrupled and suicide threats have increased, said Sheriff's Capt. Tony Sauro. The average number of traffic accidents countywide rose from about 20 a day to 75 on Wednesday, according to Sauro.
Sightseers and reckless drivers are to blame for most of the crashes, not the lack of traffic lights at many intersections in Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach and Pass Christian, said Sauro.
Additional staffing has helped police set up groups to focus on specific needs such as traffic congestion, routine patrol and U.S. 90 security, said Biloxi Police Sgt. Jackie Rhodes.
"The heavy police presence has been a deterrent to crime," said Gulfport Police Cmdr. Alfred Sexton, whose agency's losses include police headquarters.
For complete list of law enforcement agencies helping South Mississippi, go to www.sunherald.com

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 Posted on Fri, Sep. 30, 2005
Coast real estate may see a boom
Insurance availability a factor, but property prices are attractive
By DAVID TORTORANO
SUN HERALD
PASS CHRISTIAN - Concerned that the value of your property may drop in the wake of Hurricane Katrina?
Ask Julia Chang or her husband, Daniel, about that.
Prior to Katrina, a buyer had been interested in their two-acre beachfront property - which had a service station on it - just off U.S. 90.
After the hurricane wiped out huge portions of South Mississippi on Aug. 29, many people found themselves with vacant space where buildings once stood.
But the underlying value of that acreage - even without the home - is an important consideration. It's still valuable.
"When the hurricane came we thought we were not going to be able to finish this deal, that they would not be interested anymore," Julia Chang said.
She thought wrong. It closed Wednesday.
They never even tried to renegotiate," she said. Although she did not reveal the selling price, she was willing to say it was "over $2 million."
She said the buyer is interested in developing a condominium.
"It's encouraging news for people to know," she said about the property sale. In fact, it looks as if there's no loss of interest in real estate here.
"People are getting phone calls and signs are going up," Jim Barksdale, chairman of the governor's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal, said at a news conference Thursday.
Barksdale's comment was in response to an audience member who said fliers were being handed out in portions of town looking for people who want to sell property.
Walter Molony, a spokesman with the National Association of Realtors in Washington, was not surprised about interest in land in the wake of the hurricane.
"You have a market that has been identified as an up-and-coming, overlooked area of the country in terms of coastal markets," Molony said.
It became an "up-and-coming" market in part because of the rapid increase in prices in Florida, traditional buying territory for those from the Northeast and the Midwest.
Molony said the northern Gulf Coast as well as the mid-Atlantic are both rising markets.
He said this area's median housing price of $124,000 is an appreciation of 9.6 percent from a year earlier. That's attractive, compared with a national median of $208,500.
"You get a whole lot more house for the dollar," he said.
Molony said it's hard to find a model for what might happen to prices in the wake of Katrina.
But in Mobile the median price in the second quarter was up 10.5 percent from the previous year, when it was slapped by Hurricane Ivan.
With Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which pounded South Florida's Miami-Dade County, there was a disruption and even a dip in sales. But the area bounced back in short order.
"Florida went on to set new sales records," Molony said.
How interested people will be in buying along the Coast will depend on many factors, including insurance availability, he said.

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Posted on Fri, Sep. 30, 2005
Church, state vie over casinos
By GEOFF PENDER
capitalbureau@aol.com
JACKSON - Rep. Jim Simpson of Pass Christian couldn't believe the e-mails he received from some self-proclaimed Christians this week attempting to lobby against casinos rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina.
"I've gotten more than half a dozen from people who said, 'I prayed for the destruction of Katrina. This is God's wrath,'" said Simpson. "I got so mad I wanted to scream at them. But I didn't respond. Not yet."
Many of Simpson's constituents died in Katrina. He lost his home and his business and pretty much everything he owns.
"I'm going to get together a list of all the obituaries," Simpson said, "and send them in my response to them. I'm going to send that list and ask, 'OK, was this part of your prayers? Did you want this to happen?'
Most of the religious lobbying of lawmakers this week has been much more cordial, as preachers and laymen from churches across the state mingled among casino lobbyists, vying for lawmakers' ears.
The Rev. Mickey Dalrymple of Columbus cornered Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, near the Capitol elevator Thursday.
"Sir, we want you to stand strong against the casinos," the preacher told Holland. "Don't let the camel's head under the tent."
Holland replied: "Sorry, Parson, I just don't agree with you. I'm for lettin' them up on shore. I just don't see the harm. But I respect your position. Pray for me."
Dalrymple said: "I understand. We love you, either way."

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Posted on Fri, Sep. 30, 2005
Helping hands bring hope
Volunteers from throughout America - from New York, California, Ohio and more - are camping in Katrina's rubble and sweltering in the unfamiliar heat to help Coast people clean up and rebuild. Some have come and gone but others are still helping.
'Hope your school gets fixed'
A family connection brings seven folks from Saranac Lake, N.Y., to repair the home of Chris and Gary Goulet of 23113 Freddie Frank Road, which is slightly south of Wolf River in Pass Christian and had 7 feet of water inside.
On the same truck with the volunteers and building materials came hundreds of backpacks filled with school supplies for St. Thomas school students.
The group arrived Sunday night and by mid-Monday had finished insulating the Goulets' house and begun to Sheetrock and rewire.
"It's like (the home improvement show) 'While You Were Out.'
" Gary Goulet said. "It's just amazing!"
Volunteers are Goulet's brother-in-law, Clifford Wagner of Saranac Lake, who is a chiropractor and carpenter; his jogging partner, Bob Scheefer, a contractor; four of Scheefer's paid workers, and Dave Vossler, another friend who is "a tree guy."
"These guys will only be here a week," Goulet said. "It's a 30-hour drive, and they leave their families and jobs to come."
Claire (Goulet) Wagner, who is Gary Goulet's sister, once attended the destroyed St. Thomas school.
She initiated the adoption of St. Thomas by the Saranac Lake and St. Bernard elementary schools in New York and coordinated shipping the loaded backpacks collected by teachers, families and students there. Tucked inside backpacks were youngsters' crayoned messages to Coast students, including "hope your school gets fixed." All was delivered Monday to St. Thomas' temporary site. A truckload of school desks from Saranac Lake is coming later, Goulet said.
Supplies just sitting here
Kathy Thrower was on a mission Monday, looking for a place to redistribute survival supplies shipped into the area from a California charity.
"Are there still folks living on that parking lot in Hancock County?" she asked, referring to the tent city that had cropped up on the Kmart parking lot at U.S. 90 and Mississippi 603 in Waveland. "I mean, I've got a job, and folks out here in Orange Grove - most of us have what we need.
"All these supplies are just sitting here - at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Orange Grove - and it seems a shame that no one is using them."
Verification that the tent city had been disbanded, save for official organizations, set off a round of questions about who might be able to use the supplies, and when Thrower parted company with a reporter, she was headed for Coleman Avenue and the Mollere encampment there in Waveland, "Some place where the supplies will do some good," she said.
- JEAN PRESCOTT
Help for strangers and neighbors
Steppin-Out Ministries in Berlin, Ohio, arrived in Woolmarket on Sunday night with 20 of its mission's disaster response folks to work at Trinity Bible Church at River Oaks, doing construction, roofing, cleanup - anything that needs to be done.
"They do this all over the globe," says the Rev. Gerry Rubink, church pastor. "It's a real self-contained unit and brings its own portable showers. They can go to Africa and do the same thing - and have, plenty of times."
Recipients are the church, those affiliated with the church and/or church members.
Plus, "we're helping some strangers and neighbors."
While the church did not have much damage, he said, there are 20 huge trees down on the property, the parsonage needs reroofing and siding and six church members lost everything in the hurricane.
The volunteers, headed by John and Shirley Corley of Berlin, will be here working for at least five weeks and rotate groups of 15 to 20 people for one-week periods.
The ministry is supported by 12 Bible churches, Rubink said, and "they go after carpenters, electricians, plumbers - they send professional people down.
"We're just happy they are here. They are what it's all about, to help the church in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."
- PAM FIRMIN
Undaunted by the task
Susan and Nick Scherer of Land O' Lakes, Fla., who moved south a year ago from Minnesota, responded to their first hurricane, Katrina, by collecting supplies and delivering them person-to-person in areas of Biloxi seemingly untouched by official help five days after the storm.
Over a two-week period, they made three trips here.
On Friday after the storm, they filled a 15-foot U-Haul with water, food, diapers and other necessities they had collected by going door-to-door among their neighbors.
"We expected it to be dangerous," Susan said. "TV was showing scenes of looting in New Orleans. We just kind of drove west. We didn't know where we were going to end up.
"The people of Biloxi we met were so hopeful. It wasn't anything like you see in New Orleans."
"We were overwhelmed and surprised there didn't seem to be much help at that time," Nick said.
"We got off I-110 (Friday) at an overpass in Biloxi," he said, "where a group of paramedics was standing there on the beach in front of the Beau Rivage. We pulled over. We said, 'Where can we go from here? Who do you drop this stuff off to?'
"They said, 'There's no one in command.'
Eventually, the Scherers were directed to Biloxi Regional Hospital, where they opened the back of their trailer and started passing out sandwiches and drinks.
A police officer later led them to Biloxi Junior High School, where there was a makeshift shelter.
"All many of them had was the clothes on their backs," Susan said.
The next day, they returned with a 5-by-8-foot U-Haul filled with pillows, blankets, towels, sleeping bags and clothes, bought in Daphne, Ala., with $2,000 pledged by a relative and price breaks given by Target.
Back home, they talked, word spread, they spoke at their church, more people donated supplies and money.
On the third weekend after the storm, they returned with a 14-foot U-Haul full of supplies, this time heavy on tarps and cleaning supplies.
And they aren't quitting yet.
"We got some names of individuals so that we are going to try to create a kind of long-distance neighbors program," Nick said, "where families here are going to try to make donations to specific families in Mississippi.
"Through conversations we've had in sharing our visit, other people have stepped up. We have a youth group here that wants to go help with cleanup.
"It's a huge task."
- PAM FIRMIN

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USA TODAY September 28, 2005
Son's thank-you follows dad's lead

State Rep. Jim Simpson Sr. stood before the Mississippi House in 1969 to thank the state and the nation for helping the Gulf Coast after a horrific hurricane. On Tuesday, his son did the same.
State Rep. Jim Simpson Jr., R-Long Beach, first apologized to his colleagues for breaking the House chamber's coat-and-tie dress code. "The fact is, I don't own a suit and I don't own a coat and I don't own a tie and I don't own a home," he said. "I am no different than 90% of my constituents and my neighbors." He choked back tears as he read the speech his father delivered on Aug. 27, 1969, 10 days after Hurricane Camille flattened the Simpsons' hometown of Pass Christian.
Jim Simpson Sr., a Democrat, served from January 1964 to January 1992. He died in 1994. He said in 1969 that he saw a new light on the Mississippi coast h1 the dark days after Camille.
"'This light comes from the north, the east and the west and every point in this great state and generous nation,'" his son read. " 'This light is called hope.' " Like his father 36 years ago, Jim Simpson Jr. thanked fellow Mississippians and Americans for their help and their prayers. "We call upon you again individually and collectively to help us stand proudly in our communities again," he said, choking back tears.
"We need you to help our fathers to go back to work. We need you to help our mothers return to making our homes proud and places where we can raise our children again. We need you to help our children laugh and have a place to go to school and a place to come home to again."
************************************
Help 'GMA' Revive Robin Roberts' Hometown
Join the Effort to Help Rebuild
Pass Christian, Miss.
Sep. 28, 2005 - When Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast, it hit very close to home for "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts.  
     Roberts grew up on the Gulf Coast in Pass Christian, Miss., a town of 6,000 that lies about 13 miles west of Gulfport.
     "It is so hard to comprehend the level of devastation," said Roberts, who reported from the town for "GMA." "Mile after heartbreaking mile -- movie theaters, strip malls, corner stores blown to pieces, and entire neighborhoods just gone."
     As cities and towns along the Gulf Coast begin the rebuilding process, "Good Morning America" will document the recovery effort in Pass Christian, 80 percent of which was destroyed in the storm. "GMA" will also partner with the Salvation Army and the Corporation for National and Community Service to "adopt" Pass Christian.
     Both the Salvation Army and the Corporation for National and Community Service, which runs AmeriCorps among other programs, will send teams of trained volunteers to Pass Christian to help people rebuild their homes and lives, as well as identify the long-term needs of the community.
     If you'd like to join "GMA" and its partners in helping to rebuild Robin's hometown, you can visit the following Web sites to get more information and make a contribution.

Click here to visit the Salvation Army. Don't forget to earmark your contribution from "Good Morning America/Pass Christian."

Click here to visit the Corporation for National and Community Service.

     Additionally, "Good Morning America's" guests, including Sheryl Crow, Geena Davis and other stars, are donating personal items to a celebrity auction to benefit Pass Christian.
     "GMA" fans will be able to bid on mementos from a star and help the town at the same time.
     Check back for the latest details, and watch "GMA" for an announcement of the date of the auction.
     Donations will help provide some of the supplies residents of Pass Christian say are most needed: extension ladders, rope, shovels, axes, hammers, nails, saws, gas cans, drills, tarps, cleaning supplies, extension cords, sunscreen and insect spray. Donations will also provide supplies for schools so the children of Pass Christian can get back to the books.
     The healing has already begun in Pass Christian. Local officials believe around 1,500 people have returned to the town, and they are ready to get back to normal life.
     "This town will never be the same," said Pass Christian Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm Jones. "But it will be better."
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Posted on Tue, Sep. 27, 2005
GMA's Roberts lends a hand in the Pass

By TRACY DASH -- SUN HERALD
PASS CHRISTIAN - "Good Morning America" viewers usually find Robin Roberts sitting behind the anchor desk on the popular ABC show.
This week, though, Roberts is broadcasting from her hometown of Pass Christian, lending a hand in the rebuilding effort after Hurricane Katrina destroyed virtually everything in her path.
Roberts, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, helped clear debris from Seal Street Tuesday morning and unloaded thousands of items from two 18-wheelers. The trucks were packed with $250,000 worth of supplies, including box fans, shovels, brooms and other items that will be used to rebuild the city's infrastructure.

***********************************
Help 'GMA' Revive Robin Roberts' Hometown
 Join the Effort to Help Rebuild Pass Christian, Miss.
Sep. 24, 2005 - When Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast, it hit very close to home for "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts. Roberts grew up on the Gulf Coast in Pass Christian, Miss., a town of 6,000 that lies about 13 miles west of Gulfport.
"It is so hard to comprehend the level of devastation," said Roberts, who reported from the town for "GMA." "Mile after heartbreaking mile -- movie theaters, strip malls, corner stores blown to pieces, and entire neighborhoods just gone."
As cities and towns along the Gulf Coast begin the rebuilding process, "Good Morning America" will document the recovery effort in Pass Christian, 80 percent of which was destroyed in the storm. "GMA" will also partner with the Salvation Army and the Corporation for National and Community Service to "adopt" Pass Christian.
Both the Salvation Army and the Corporation for National and Community Service, which runs AmeriCorps among other programs, will send teams of trained volunteers to Pass Christian to help people rebuild their homes and lives, as well as identify the long-term needs of the community.
If you'd like to join "GMA" and its partners in helping to rebuild Robin's hometown, you can visit the following Web sites to get more information and make a contribution.
Click here to visit the Salvation Army. Don't forget to earmark your contribution from "Good Morning America/Pass Christian."
Click here to visit the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Additionally, "Good Morning America's" guests, including Sheryl Crow, Geena Davis and other stars, are donating personal items to a celebrity auction to benefit Pass Christian. "GMA" fans will be able to bid on mementos from a star and help the town at the same time.
Check back for the latest details, and watch "GMA" for an announcement of the date of the auction.
Donations will help provide some of the supplies residents of Pass Christian say are most needed: extension ladders, rope, shovels, axes, hammers, nails, saws, gas cans, drills, tarps, cleaning supplies, extension cords, sunscreen and insect spray. Donations will also provide supplies for schools so the children of Pass Christian can get back to the books.
The healing has already begun in Pass Christian. Local officials believe around 1,500 people have returned to the town, and they are ready to get back to normal life.
"This town will never be the same," said Pass Christian Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm Jones. "But it will be better."

**********************************
Robin Roberts Drives Pass Christian Bus On GMA

 South Mississippi is about to get some more National exposure this week. ABC's "Good Morning America" was in Pass Christian Monday morning, video taping a segment for the show.
The segment will highlight Coast native and "Good Morning America" News Anchor Robin Roberts' first job.
She hasn't been behind the wheel of a school bus in years, but Monday morning she seemed as comfortable as she is behind the news desk at "Good Morning America".
"We're here to talk about my first job. Charlie, Diane, the four of us on our show, we're going back to our respective communities and talking about what we did first, and mine was driving a big old school bus when I was a senior in high school at Pass High," Roberts said.
"You all feel comfortable with me at the wheel," Roberts asked students boarding her bus for the TV segment.
Robin got her bus driving job at the age of 18. She sort of stumbled into the position when the school needed someone to bus its tennis team to matches.
"The goal is to let people know our anchors a little more, where they come from, show that anybody can start anywhere and end up as an anchor," ABC Segment Producer Lili Rosenberg said.
"It taught me responsibility at a very young age. It showed that people believed in me, because that was a big deal for someone that was still in high school," Roberts said.
She says there is no place like home and she's excited to be able to bring a national video crew to town.
"I love the fact that when we do these types of programs on "Good Morning America". I get to showcase my home state. Diane is going to Massachusetts, Charlie is going to New Jersey, Tony is going to Washington D.C. I'm putting Pass Christian on the National map. I get a big kick out of that."
Students who rode Robin's bus for the segment also got a kick out of it.
"I thought it was really cool. She's really nice, she's really sweet, she's real intelligent and I think it's really good she's doing 'Good Morning America', 8th Grade Student Eula Mack said.
The Robin Roberts First Job Segment is scheduled to run this Wednesday on "Good Morning America."
by Al Showers

*********************************
Posted on Wed, Sep. 28, 2005
With a little push, Library can reopen in the Pass
Sally James says she can get the Pass Christian Public Library up and humming if she can get one of the many trailers FEMA is parking in War Memorial Park to house city services.
James, normally the children's librarian in the Pass, says 15 computers have already been donated to Pass Christian and all she needs is a place to plug 'em in.
When the Pass Christian Board of Aldermen meets today at 12:30, we encourage them to allocate the library a spot in the park. If you would also like to encourage the aldermen to do that, then please attend their meeting in the fire station at 808 2nd Street.
War Memorial Park, which stretches from 2nd Street down to the beachfront, is turning into something of a civic center for the Pass. Trailers have already been designated to temporarily house city hall, the police department and the department of public works.
Adding a trailer for the library - and its invaluable resource of Internet access for residents - ought to be done immediately.
Put all the missing on one list
After more than a month, there is still no single, authoritative list of names of those South Mississippians who have been missing since Hurricane Katrina.
There ought to be.
And there ought to be a very public effort to account for every name on such a list.
As determined as most South Mississippians are to get on with life, we really can't do that until we know as much as can be known about the fate of our missing family members and friends and neighbors.

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Posted on Wed, Sep. 28, 2005
Working on fast recovery
N.O. military boat builder moves business to Gulfport
By DAVID TORTORANO
dtortorano@sunherald.com
GULFPORT - A New Orleans military boat builder, flooded out of its operation in the Crescent City, has moved to Gulfport so it can quickly return to operations.
United States Marine Inc., which primarily works with military customers, including special operations, expects to have 115 workers by the time it's done hiring.
United States Marine will operate out of three buildings off Lorraine Road that have a combined 80,000 square feet of production space. USMI had 56,000 square feet in New Orleans. It also has 8,000 square feet of office space.
Of five buildings it used in New Orleans, the two main buildings were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29. Three other buildings may be usable, said Barry Dreyfus Jr., CEO of USMI.
He said the company hopes to reuse those facilities. But the decision was made to move to Gulfport because of how quickly the company could restart operations.
"Our plan is to be operational in 30 days," said Dreyfus, who said the New Orleans operations as of now are "suspended until we can review options."
He said that once they have better access to the New Orleans facilities, the company will look at relocating a company division there.
In addition to the damage to the buildings, all eight of the vessels USMI was working on were destroyed.
USMI had 115 employees in New Orleans and expects to have the same number here but plans to grow to 175 in the next two years. Previous plans to do some patrol boat work in Pass Christian have been mothballed since the current facility is large enough to do that work.
Dreyfus said the company has been in contact with all its employees and is going to provide temporary quarters in trailers. He did not know how many of those New Orleans workers will stay with the company.
USMI now has a sign outside its location on Lorraine Road saying it's hiring. The company is looking for mechanics, outfitters, office personnel, welders and more. Details: (228) 679-1005.

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Posted on Mon, Sep. 26, 2005
Many homebuyers, not enough homes
By KAREN NELSON     karennelson2@aol.com
Money is starting to flow into the Coast real estate market in an unprecedented way.
"Insurance companies are dumping a lot of money into people's hands, and people are desperate," said John Jones, with John Jones Realty in Pascagoula. "It's a boom. There's an awful lot of work."
But he said that Realtors are also plowing new ground.
"It's a new world," he said.
While Jones has a contract to sell a house with a gutted first floor but a livable second story and another contract on a home with no Sheetrock, Ed McMurtry with Westin Homes in Ocean Springs said he's seeing little activity in high-end new-home sales. People haven't been in a hurry to buy $750,000 homes after the storm, he said.
McMurtry's doing a booming business remodeling damaged homes. He said he has 95 homes in line to reconstruct, with contracts on eight of them.
Deb Sogard, an independent agent who has Progressive Realty in Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian and Waveland, said she can't find enough homes for her buyers.
Since the storm, she started going door to door asking people if they wanted to sell. Now she has two houses under contract. She has done the same with small businesses.
"I'm just knocking on doors and talking to people," she said. "Every line I stand in, I'm handing out cards."
She, like many Realtors and real estate agents, lost her home to the storm.
Eight different out-of-state contracting companies are interested in one commercial property in Gulfport that she has listed, Sogard said. They are seeking a one-year lease.
Another thing she's seeing is inflation in prices. She had one house two blocks from the beach in Pass Christian listed for $292,500 before the storm. It was not flooded during Katrina and is now listed for $399,000 and she said she had received a verbal offer Tuesday.
"I felt bad about raising the price," she said, "but that's what my clients want to do."
The sudden rise in prices based on high demand and short supply - and the fact that buyers have cash in hand - concerns Sonya Mobley with Coldwell Banker, Alfonso Realty in Gulfport.
"Please tell people to get an appraisal on the property, whether it's a cash transaction or a loan," Mobley said. "Sellers are raising the prices, but the house may not be worth it."
She's also seeing sellers requiring buyers to pay fees that traditionally were assigned to the seller.
And title checks are an issue in Jackson and Hancock counties.
In Jackson County, the courthouse flooded and land records have been set up at the fairgrounds. Jones said he expects it will be another three weeks before attorneys will be able to do title searches in Jackson County.
Realtors said there's a similar situation in Hancock County. And they do not recommend purchasing a home or building without the assurance of a clear title.
Coldwell Banker's Kim Seal in Long Beach and North Gulfport said that while the market is "phenomenal," people who have lost their homes south of the railroad tracks are frantic.
The phone has been ringing off the hook, she said, and she's scrounging to find people homes. But more are becoming available, she said, as people decide not to stay.
The Mississippi Realtor Hurricane Relief Fund
The Mississippi Association of Realtors is overseeing a hurricane relief fund that last week was $730,000 and growing to give grants of up to $2,500 to homeowners affected by Hurricane Katrina. The money will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, said Mississippi Real Estate Commissioner Mark Cumbest.
The grants are for people with damage to their primary residence. The program is open to all citizens in the state. The National Association of Realtors began the fund by giving the state association $500,000.
How to apply: Call 601-932-5241 or e-mail hurricanerelief@msrealtors.org for an application form. A board of directors will review applications and decide who receives the grants.

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Posted on Wed, Sep. 21, 2005
Power crews still at work
SUN HERALD
Power companies have announcements for South Mississippians.
Nearly 20,000 of Mississippi Power's 195,000 customers are still unable to receive service because of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, but workers continue to restore facilities in the company's service area.
"It will be months before everything is back to normal," said Kurt Brautigam, company spokesman. "Everyone needs to continue to exercise caution around any downed lines or other situations that might be dangerous."
Customers can call Mississippi Power's outage reporting number at (800) ITS-DARK (487-3275) or the customer service number at (800) 532-1502.
Along the Coast, inspections are required by local authorities before temporary service or service for new construction can be provided. Customers can call city or county code offices.
All of Mississippi Power's customer service offices are open except those in Gulfport, Pass Christian, and Moss Point. Customers can mail bills to P.O. Box 245, Birmingham, AL 35201.
Coast Electric reported that as of Monday, about 99.7 percent or 59,825 of its 60,000 members who can be served now have electric service. About 10,000 members cannot receive power.
Coast Electric members can report their power outages by calling the Bay St. Louis office at (228) 467-6535, Gulfport office (228) 832-1761 or Picayune office (601) 798-5013.
Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association has restored power to almost all its members. If the electricity is still off, contact one of the offices and report it. Call (601) 736-2666.

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Posted on Wed, Sep. 21, 2005
A new Marshall Plan is needed for the Gulf states
By GERALD BLESSEY
Gulf Coast states need help beyond current law and conventional wisdom
A SUN HERALD FORUM
There is an over-arching question transcending all of the specific legal issues about insurance, employment contracts, delayed debt payments and reconstruction contracts related to Hurricane Katrina.
The fundamental question: Will the normal economic, administrative and judicial systems, even with generous private charity and federal emergency aid available under current law, be able to meet this extraordinary challenge in time to save Mississippi's economy from collapse?
I think the answer is, no, we need more help, beyond current law and conventional wisdom.
We need visionary leadership. Gov. Haley Barbour is off to a great start with his call for a Mississippi Renaissance. Let's hope that other leaders in the public and private sector join the governor's spirit and, like Renaissance men and women, think outside the box to create a newer, better community.
We need a Marshall Plan for the Gulf states. Not just Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, but also Florida, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Georgia, where hundreds of thousands of homeless and jobless citizens have relocated. Most importantly, the critical areas - the southern areas of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana -need enormous capital to be invested quickly, with little red tape but with visionary planning to recreate permanent jobs and new storm-proof residential neighborhoods in completely devastated pockets like Point Cadet in Biloxi, downtown Gulfport, Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Waveland, and many others.
Capital injection on the scale needed, but without cumbersome regulation, will require new federal and state laws.
The Marshall Plan was named for Gen. George C. Marshall, who as secretary of state after World War II, proposed the plan to invest U.S. capital to rebuild Western Europe. The plan injected capital and technical expertise to get business and industry back on their feet to employ millions, whose paychecks then resurrected the economies of Europe. In return, America's major trading partners began buying U.S. goods again.
Our coastal economy has been devastated. What we really need is a federal Marshall Plan for the Gulf Coast.
Britain, France and Germany would be Third World countries now without the Marshall Plan. It will take extraordinary steps to restart these coastal economies.
I don't think we can be timid. It will take bold, new steps beyond what has been done for previous disasters. The governor and the Legislature need to move immediately to tell the federal government that we can't do this alone. We need help now, not a month from now.
Second, we need to pass special legislation to allow our local cities and counties to carry out these things quickly without a lot of bureaucratic red tape. We don't need a new bureaucracy. Local governments and local citizens know how they want to rebuild their neighborhoods. And it is a no-brainer that the first thing we need to get back in place in Gulfport, Biloxi and Hancock County are casinos to get people back to work and the tourism economy running.
The unprecedented scope of Katrina destroyed the whole Gulf Coast tourism economy. So it requires an unprecedented economic solution. I'm not talking about financial assistance for clean-up, temporary aid and temporary jobs, which are part of the current law for emergencies. That's good, but not enough to save the economy. I'm talking about jump-starting the permanent, private sector of the economy on a massive scale with clear, simple authority to get the job done.
We need a special session of the Legislature to (1) ask, respectfully but firmly, the president and Congress to adopt such a Marshall Plan, and (2) pass enabling state legislation to permit city and county governments to work in public-private partnerships to implement such a plan according to the design and vision of the local communities, with technical assistance (but not red tape) from state and federal governments.
This strategy will require bold, compassionate, enthusiastic, fair leadership at every level.
The economies of south Mississippi and the Gulf States, and maybe even the nation, do not have the luxury of time to mend and restore in the same manner as after Camille. Actually, the Mississippi Coast did not recover from Camille until the casinos came, 20 years later. For Mississippi, the key to restoring the economy is restoring the casinos, right away, in storm-proof structures. The governments should assist every casino company in getting back into business quickly - restoring jobs, tourism, and hope.
The buildings still standing along U.S. 90 weren't just lucky. They were modern buildings built to post-Camille building code standards. Most were built on pilings to allow water to flow underneath the buildings or through the lower floors rather than allowing waves to bash against the walls.
For instance, the Beau Rivage, Isle of Capri, and Hard Rock hotels, Sea Breeze condos, and the Mississippi Power Company building, among others, remain because they were designed to these new standards of strength. They are damaged but restorable.
As tragic as Katrina was and still is, there is now an opportunity to build a newer, better economy and quality of life all up and down the Coast and throughout the region. For example, Point Cadet in Biloxi could be rebuilt with a mix of traditional neighborhood developments under the principles of the Congress for New Urbanism, along with casinos, open space, condos, churches, affordable housing, parks, neighborhood commercial (food stores, pharmacies, shops, theaters) within walking distance, mass transit, public piers, marinas connected by boardwalks to casinos.
All pre-storm residents should be guaranteed affordable homes in the new neighborhood. Such a new community will require venture capital backed by the federal government and implemented quickly by new state and local government rules and oversight. Similar new neighborhoods could be built in Gulfport, the Pass, Hancock County, D'Iberville, Ocean Springs, and so on.
On a regional basis, there are similar opportunities for larger scale but better reconnection of communities and economies. For instance, a new rail line with commuter trains could be built from Gulfport through Hattiesburg and on to Jackson, tying these economies closer and integrating them in a new, more energy-efficient way. Hattiesburg and all of Piney Woods Mississippi were hard hit by this storm. A new rail line would spur new growth while restraining urban sprawl.
There are many other good ideas out there. The people are battered but optimistic. It is time for us all to "act like men and women of thought, and think like men and women of action."

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Posted on Wed, Sep. 21, 2005
Officials trying to identify caskets displaced by Katrina
HOLBROOK MOHR
Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. - As the rumbling of heavy equipment echoes through her once-serene, waterfront cemetery in Biloxi, Kim Powers longs for a day when the dead can rest in peace.
Hurricane Katrina ripped open mausoleums at Southern Memorial Park, sucked caskets out of their tombs, flattened offices and left the entire place looking "like a war zone," she said.
At least 50 caskets that were displaced from Southern Memorial Park and another 10 that were disinterred at Live Oaks in Pass Christian had not been identified as of Tuesday, Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove said.
It could be weeks before officials know exactly how many caskets are missing, he said, adding that one casket was found as recently as Sunday buried in sand and debris on the beach.
"We'll get them back where they belong," he said. "Will we get all of them returned? That's a hard question to answer. The reality is that (some) could have been swept into the Gulf."
Funeral directors and cemetery owners say that the identification process could be painfully slow. Some caskets have information tubes attached to them that identify the remains; others have no identification at all.
Information tubes have been used since the mid-1960s.
Cemeteries often keep descriptions of the caskets so the process of elimination could be used. But, if cemetery offices were destroyed and records were lost, that too could be difficult, said Larry Chedotal, president of the Mississippi Cemetery Association, who also owns two cemeteries in Avondale near New Orleans.
"I'm sure some families can help determine that information, but it's going to be very emotional," he said.
New Orleans' historic cemeteries, known as "cities of the dead," were damaged but displaced caskets from the city's aboveground tombs were not the problem officials originally had feared.
Meanwhile, Powers is anxious to return the disinterred caskets to "their final resting place with as much dignity as they had the first time around."
"These are people's loved ones," she said. "And this was once a beautiful cemetery."

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Posted on Tue, Sep. 20, 2005
Housing for storm victims to be spread across the Miss. coast
DAVID DISHNEAU
Associated Press
GULFPORT, Miss. - Mobile homes will be set up in relatively small clusters scattered across the Mississippi coast rather than in a couple large sites so that the thousands left homeless by Hurricane Katrina will have an easier time rebuilding, Gov. Haley Barbour said Tuesday.
"What we want to avoid are gigantic trailer parks, for lack of a better word," Barbour told local business leaders and government officials. The meeting, held to introduce a newly appointed commission that will guide the recovery process, also included a visit from President Bush.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide 35,000 to 60,000 mobile homes where those displaced by the storm can stay for up to 18 months, according to Barbour and former Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale, the commission chairman. The units will be clustered in groups of 250 to 1,000 near devastated communities, Barbour said.
The plan aims to avoid large expanses of tightly packed mobile homes - as many as 2,500 per site - that Barbour said were set up in Florida after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The units in Mississippi will be placed on lots 50 feet wide instead of 30 feet, the Florida standard, he said.
Local governments will be able to decide whether and where to allow the mobile homes, he and Barksdale stressed.
Local zoning also will guide the rebuilding of the coast, Barksdale said. His commission will help local governments decide whether condominium towers, casinos and hotels will replace modest residential areas and coastal fishing communities.
"It's really up to the local community. If they want to have high-rises, they can have high-rises," Barksdale said.
Residents have mixed feelings.
Dave Dennis, who runs a company that installs workspace cubicles, said he will fight any high-rise development in Pass Christian, a heavily damaged community of 8,500. He said he's been asked to serve on a commission to review the city's zoning.
"Rest assured, the integrity of that historic community will remain intact," he said.

***********************************
Posted Tue, Sep 20, 2005
Twenty-three telephone banks are available for coastal residents who are without service to make free local and long-distance calls. The locations as of Monday:
Harrison County: Gulfport - 15154 Crossroads Parkway (behind Sealy's), 1316 44th Ave. (Milner Stadium), 10213 Lorraine Road (Turnbull Inc.), 2205 John Hill Boulevard (near Hood's) and 1801 23rd Ave. (inside Courthouse); Lyman - 16521 Highway 53; Biloxi - 16320 Old Woolmarket Road, 2363 Pass Road (outside Steinmart), 917 Division St. (Food Tiger); D'Iberville - 10391 Auto Mall Parkway (next to City Hall); Long Beach - 119 Cleveland Ave. (across from Long Beach High); Pass Christian, 808 West Second St. (by the fire station); and at Fletias and Second Street.

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Posted on Mon, Sep. 19, 2005
PASS CHRISTIAN | Strange fish for a little pond
By QUINCY C. COLLINS
quincycollins44@aol.com
PASS CHRISTIAN - Most big fish tales are never proven, especially when they swim in murky waters.
For a week, the Achee family suspected that Hurricane Katrina had deposited saltwater fish, including what appeared to be a medium-sized black tip shark, into the pond in front of their home off Menge Avenue.
Every once in a while a sharp, dark fin would break the water's surface and disappear as quickly as it appeared.
On Sunday, local researchers with the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cast their long net to catch what didn't belong in the pond and return it to its habitat.
Hurricane Katrina flooded the Achee family's property with 9 feet of water, raising the pond's salinity to 13.5 parts per thousand. A freshwater pond usually has a salinity of three parts per thousand while the ocean has a salinity of 35 parts per thousand, said Eric Hoffmayer, a researcher with the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.
After nearly two hours, a float on the gill net dipped under the water.
"I think this is our culprit," said Trey Driggers, a research fisheries biologist with NOAA, as researchers untangled a cownose ray and prepared to transport it to the nearby bayou.
If there was a shark in the pond, it would probably be restless and swim into the net, Driggers said.
Homeowner Jennifer Achee said she still suspects saltwater fish and possibly a shark are in her pond.
"I'm very curious how they got here," Achee said. "How long is nature going to let them survive outside of natural environment? I'll still keep a morning watch."

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Posted on Sun, Sep. 18, 2005
Testing the coastal waters
We check for harmful bacteria in 3 counties
By MIKE KELLER
mkeller@sunherald.com
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI - Water samples taken by the Sun Herald at six Coast locations last week show surprisingly low levels of harmful bacteria in the waters around Harrison and Jackson counties.
"I would have expected these numbers to be much higher under the circumstances," said Henry Folmar, lab director for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality's Office of Pollution Control. "I'm really pleasantly surprised."
The samples were taken to show a snapshot of the health of coastal waters after Hurricane Katrina struck last month. The results cannot be viewed as a comprehensive picture of storm-related environmental problems.
In addition, the analysis only tested for possible sewage in the water; it did not test for industrial chemical contaminants.
It also would not show the effects on water quality from the millions of cubic yards of debris that washed into Mississippi Sound and surrounding waters when Katrina's storm surge receded..
The six samples were taken from both inland and coastal surface waters. The sites were selected to get an indication of any potential dangers to residents. From west to east, samples were taken from: Saint Louis Bay, at the northern tip of Pass Christian; inside Gulfport harbor, just south of the Copa Casino; Biloxi beach, at U.S. 90 and DeBuys Road; Biloxi Bay, north of Bayview Avenue and the state office building; the Escatawpa River in Jackson County, under Highway 63; and the west bank of Bayou Casotte, north of Halter Marine and across from Mississippi Phosphates.
Each site had its own peculiar rancid smell. One place smelled like sewage, while another smelled like chemicals and still another smelled like a combination of the two.
The two samples taken in Saint Louis Bay and Biloxi beach yielded results of 136 and 400 colonies respectively.
The beach sample was almost four times greater than DEQ's limit and the Saint Louis Bay number would have caused authorities to shut down the beach and issue warnings to avoid contact with the water.

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Posted on Sun, Sep. 18, 2005
AROUND SOUTH MISSISSIPPI
Insurance assistance
The Mississippi Insurance Department has set up a toll-free number for residents displaced to other states who have insurance-assistance questions. Out-of-state residents call 1-866-856-1982; operational 20 days. In-state residents call 1-800-562-2951 or (601) 359-2453.
Travel trailer policy
Individuals who are attempting or expecting to place travel trailers on their property will need to get the approval of their local zoning office. Many locations will not be approved unless sewer, water and electrical connections are functional.
Hancock Bank locations
Hancock Bank has placed temporary branches at the corner of Fleitas and Second streets in Pass Christian and on U.S. 90 at Hancock's Waveland branch site to provide customers with access to banking services. The temporary branches will be open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday.
The Harrison County First and Second Judicial Courthouses, located in Gulfport and Biloxi, will open Monday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Starting Tuesday, Harrison County School District employees should contact their immediate supervisors either by phone or in person at your work site.
Coast Episcopal School to reopen
Coast Episcopal School at 5065 Espy Ave. in Long Beach will re-open on Sept. 30 from 9 a.m. to noon. Full schedule Oct. 3. Teachers are to report to school on Sept. 26 Registration for new students in grades Pre-K through eighth is Sept. 28 and 29 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Details: 860-7210 or  www.coastepiscopalschool.com  for more information.
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Posted on Sun, Sep. 18, 2005
Testing the coastal waters
We check for harmful bacteria in 3 counties
By MIKE KELLER
mkeller@sunherald.com
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI - Water samples taken by the Sun Herald at six Coast locations last week show surprisingly low levels of harmful bacteria in the waters around Harrison and Jackson counties.
"I would have expected these numbers to be much higher under the circumstances," said Henry Folmar, lab director for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality's Office of Pollution Control. "I'm really pleasantly surprised."
The samples were taken to show a snapshot of the health of coastal waters after Hurricane Katrina struck last month. The results cannot be viewed as a comprehensive picture of storm-related environmental problems.
In addition, the analysis only tested for possible sewage in the water; it did not test for industrial chemical contaminants.
Six samples were taken from both inland and coastal surface waters. The sites were selected to get an indication of any potential dangers to residents. From west to east, samples were taken from: Saint Louis Bay, at the northern tip of Pass Christian; inside Gulfport harbor, just south of the Copa Casino; Biloxi beach, at U.S. 90 and DeBuys Road; Biloxi Bay, north of Bayview Avenue and the state office building; the Escatawpa River in Jackson County, under Highway 63; and the west bank of Bayou Casotte, north of Halter Marine and across from Mississippi Phosphates.
Each site had its own peculiar rancid smell. One place smelled like sewage, while another smelled like chemicals and still another smelled like a combination of the two.
The two samples taken in Saint Louis Bay and Biloxi beach yielded results of 136 and 400 colonies respectively.
The beach sample was almost four times greater than DEQ's limit and the Saint Louis Bay number would have caused authorities to shut down the beach and issue warnings to avoid contact with the water.
According to Folmar, the amount of harmful bacteria found on any one day can be very different from those found on another. Southern Mississippi has been fortunate with weeks of full sun after Katrina, which served to evaporate standing water from the land. The next time the area gets a heavy rain, much of the organic matter that dried up will wash into surrounding waterways.

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Posted on Fri, Sep. 16, 2005
14 U.S. senators tour devastation, vow to help
By TRACY DASH and JOSHUA NORMAN
SUN HERALD
Washington, D.C., found its way to South Mississippi once again Friday as 14 senators from across the United States landed in helicopters in Pass Christian and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff led a prayer session at Gulfport City Hall.
The senators - in a group formed and led by Senate Majority Leader William Frist (R-Tenn.) and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) - were making a three-stop tour of the Gulf Coast region in advance of a vote next week on hurricane relief funds.
Sens. Frist, Reid, Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and John Warner (R-Va.) boarded a nondescript white school bus to get a firsthand look at the devastation.
They were met by a group of FEMA officials, Navy and Army personnel and Malcolm Jones, Pass Christian's chief administrative officer.
Jones, who has largely been in charge of the rebuilding of Pass Christian since the storm, talked to the senators before boarding the bus about some of the problems the Pass was having in the aftermath of Katrina: The struggle to get water and sewer services back, the difficulty in reopening schools for the year and the loss of population after nearly 70 percent of all Pass homes became unlivable.
After boarding the bus, Jones told the senators what they were and were not seeing as the group wound its way down to 2nd Street past Pass Christian High School from the Timber Ridge subdivision.
At the library, Jones paused and told the group how the police made a final stand of sorts against Hurricane Katrina on top of the bookshelves after their station started disintegrating. At one point, Jones said, the policemen had to form a human chain to rescue Chief John Dubeson from the storm surge, who was himself trying to rescue someone else.
Jones choked up while telling the story and talking about rebuilding the town; Cochran moved quickly to comfort him.
"We're going to get you what you need to rebuild this town," Cochran said.
"When the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee says that, you know you're going to get it," Lieberman said, providing a laugh and a moment of levity in an otherwise serious tour.
After boarding the bus again and traveling north to North Street and back to the waiting helicopters, some of the senators discussed what they wanted to see happen in the area during reconstruction.
Frist, echoing the sentiments of almost all the senators, said he is eager to get back to Washington to start getting help this way.
"The spirit here, the people want to rebuild," Frist said. "We in Washington want to help. The destroyed police station, the library, really represent to me that we have to rebuild infrastructure. We will provide what is needed."

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Posted on Fri, Sep. 16, 2005
U.S. mayors offer support
They pledge to help rebuild South Mississippi
By TRACY DASH
tadash@sunherald.com
GULFPORT - South Mississippi mayors may be living a public official's worst nightmare, but they don't have to face it alone, the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors said Friday.
Beverly O'Neill, mayor of Long Beach, Calif., and conference president, said mayors across the country feel the pain and have pledged to help rebuild South Mississippi.
"We're with you. We want to help," O'Neill said. "You're not alone in your rebuilding effort."
The city of Mobile donated $250,000 to start a fund for the cause.
O'Neill, members of the Mississippi Municipal League and mayors from across the country gathered at Gulfport City Hall to meet with mayors of cities in Harrison, Hancock and Jackson counties. Mayors A.J. Holloway of Biloxi, Pete Pope of Gautier, Xavier Bishop of Moss Point, Connie Moran of Ocean Springs and Brent Warr of Gulfport shared the challenges their cities will face during the next couple of years.
Pascagoula City Manager Kay Kell represented her city, while lawyer Donald Rafferty spoke on behalf of Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian.
Tom Cochran, the conference executive director, the current and former mayors of Mobile, and a handful of other mayors from neighboring states promised their support.
A sign with the words "Mayors on a Mission" hung on a wall behind them. Their mission is blasted on the conference's Web site, www.usmayors.org/uscm, which includes suggestions on how to help and highlights on what other cities are doing.
Dozens of cities are helping Coast cities by adopting them and sending them much-needed supplies.
Mike Dow, Mobile's mayor for 16 years until a few days ago, choked up when he talked about rebuilding Coast cities.
"I've never seen this type of devastation," he said.
Although each official described the devastation in their city, they remained positive about the future and thanked everyone who has supported them in what likely will be the most difficult time of their administration.
"We're all going to come back bigger and stronger," said Pope.
Some of the biggest needs, the mayors said, is keeping the workforce in town, planning for the rebuilding and protecting the environment throughout the reconstruction.
"What we're going to need, not this year, but next year when all these businesses are off the tax rolls, is money," Holloway said. "Seventy to 75 percent of our tax base is destroyed."
Other officials agreed that having operating funds will be one of the biggest concerns.
Rafferty said no businesses in Pass Christian are starting up and two-thirds of the community is uninhabitable.
When asked by a reporter what Gulfport needs most, Warr said "everything," such as mattresses, staplers and money to pay fire and police services. He said the impact on infrastructure in Gulfport alone will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Posted on Thu, Sep. 15, 2005
Schools work together to get ready for classes
By MELISSA M. SCALLAN
SUN HERALD
BILOXI - Sue Matheson has set up offices for the Pass Christian School District at DeLisle Elementary. Carrolyn Hamilton is planning for an unknown number of temporary classrooms at Quarles Elementary in Long Beach for students from Harper McCaughan Elementary, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
Kim Stasny isn't sure when she will get buildings, teachers or students, but she wants classes in Bay St. Louis to begin by Nov. 1.
Throughout South Mississippi, superintendents, teachers and other school employees are working to clean up, repair and in some cases move schools in order to get students back in the classroom.
Schools in South Mississippi expect to open again at the end of September or early October, depending on how quickly repairs are made.
Education officials in the southern part of the state met Wednesday at Biloxi High School to get questions answered and give updates on the condition of their schools.
They learned that schools will get extra money from the state and federal governments. They also learned that the state has ordered 400 portable classrooms that will be delivered in the next few weeks.
State Supt. Hank Bounds said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will pay districts for all costs for textbooks, classroom furnishings, library books, building reconstruction, teaching supplies and bus repairs attributed to Katrina.
Residents and public officials in hurricane-ravaged areas have criticized FEMA for its perceived slow response. Many also say FEMA is slow to pay governments and schools for purchases and repairs after a hurricane.
Attending Wednesday's meeting was Henry Johnson, former state superintendent of education and now the U.S. undersecretary for elementary and secondary education in Washington, D.C.
Johnson toured the area and pledged to help school districts get all the financial assistance they can.
"We will work with FEMA to make sure they understand the issues that are on your hearts and minds," he said. "The message from the president is, 'Let's just get it done.' Our intent is to find the quickest and best way to say 'yes' to your needs."
Bounds, former Pascagoula superintendent who took over the state's top education post Aug. 1, said superintendents shouldn't worry now about the 180 required education days for the school year.
"We are not prepared today to speak to exempting days or test scores," he said. "We're here to help you get up and running as soon as possible."

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Posted on Wed, Sep. 14, 2005
Coast cities are 'adopted' by others eager to help
By MEERA PAL
SUN HERALD
Cities are adopting cities and offering a hand up.
The Amana Colonies, made up of seven historic villages in east central Iowa, decided to adopt Pass Christian because of the similarities between the two small communities.
"We were watching the news and seeing the devastating. As a small community we didn't want our efforts to get lost," said Kristie Wetjen of the convention and visitor's bureau.
The Amana Colonies felt a connection to Pass Christian, since both communities have continually "voted down a casino project," Wetjen said.
Lou Rizzardi, a Pass Christian alderman, said his town of roughly 6,500 could definitely use the help cleaning up after the storm.
He cautioned that while his town would love the volunteer help, they don't have the accommodations right now to house visitors. The city is having trouble getting temporary housing for its own residents, he said.
Each city has its own needs, whether it be cash, cleaning supplies or just hard laborers.
Pass Christian: Is looking for volunteers to come help clean up the town and damaged homes. Volunteers should be self-sufficient and bring cleaning supplies. Call Alderman Lou Rizzardi at 228-216-1121.
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Posted on Wed, Sep. 14, 2005
GULFPORT | Where will we put them all?
Housing crunch is the next crisis
By MARIE McCULLOUGH
SUN HERALD
GULFPORT -
Since last week, a massive influx of aid has eased the immediate need for food, water and medical care. But thousands are still living in short-term emergency shelters, many of them never meant to house people for more than a night or two.
An untold number of additional displaced residents are crammed into motels or the homes of friends and relatives in cities far from their own.
And many are hoping to return.
But with a still undetermined number of houses and apartments wiped out by the hurricane, state and federal officials say they are scouring the Southeast for up to 300,000 RV travel trailers and mobile homes that can be offered as free or subsidized housing for as long as two years, the time it could take some people to rebuild or find new homes in the affected areas of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.
Some are worried about how long it will take to acquire and install those temporary homes.
"You've got to have a place to put 'em," Gov. Haley Barbour acknowledged. In recent days, state and local officials in Mississippi have publicly called for landowners who have vacant property with water, sewer and power lines, particularly in the coastal region, to step forward.
Some homeowners will be able to park trailers on their own property while they build, said Mike Beeman, a FEMA official in Harrison County. But he acknowledged that many homesites along the Coast are still buried in debris and may not have utility service restored for weeks.
Working under an emergency, no-bid FEMA contract, teams from Bechtel, the San Francisco-based international construction engineering firm, have joined local officials in seeking locations to establish miniature "communities" of several hundred to several thousand mobile homes. But that effort is just beginning.
Barbour said Monday that FEMA had already moved about 1,250 trailer homes into Mississippi. Some of the first trailers were delivered late last week to an RV park on Beauvoir Road, where some local families are now moving in and unpacking the few belongings they salvaged from the hurricane.

A FEMA subcontractor said 140 trailers had been installed in the park and new tenants are moving in this week. They are among the first to register for aid. Nitcavic said she registered with FEMA by telephone the day after the hurricane and got a call 11 days later from an official who invited her to look at one of the trailers.
Meanwhile, the looming demand has already prompted scattered complaints from local residents about companies buying out mobile home park leases and RV parks trying to evict current tenants. The suspicion, although not proven, is that some property owners are hoping to collect higher rents from FEMA.
Officials in Harrison County took the unusual step Tuesday of publicly warning landlords that they cannot evict tenants without just cause, such as not paying their rent or violating other terms of their lease, and even then they need a court order.
"Harrison County is still in a state of emergency," said Col. Joe Spraggins, the emergency operations chief. "We need every available piece of housing that we can have."
Spraggins' counterpart in Jackson County complained that FEMA should have been looking for trailer sites last week. After Barbour said he had been told it took FEMA eight weeks to install trailers in Florida after major hurricanes there, some local officials say they aren't waiting for the new trailer parks to be created.
At the Harrison County emergency operations center in Gulfport, planner Jeff Taylor estimates it could take four to six weeks for the RV parks to be available.
In the meantime, he has health and safety workers examining local community centers and recreation halls. Within two weeks, he hopes to convert several into transitional shelters for up to 2,000 people, with partitioned sleeping areas for individual families, showers and galley-style cooking facilities to serve 200 or more people at a time.
Officials in Pass Christian, which lost about 70 percent of its buildings, say they hope to erect a "tent city" to house hundreds of residents in a local baseball field.
"We had a population of 8,500. There are maybe 50 to 100 families residing there in their own homes now," said Pass Christian Alderman Joseph Piernas.
The number of people in shelters throughout Mississippi is declining. American Red Cross officials counted about 6,900 people at the beginning of this week, down from a peak of more than 17,000 in the first days after the hurricane. That's leading the Red Cross to close some larger shelters in Hattiesburg and Jackson - which housed people from
Mississippi and Louisiana - and move people to smaller facilities.
At shelters scattered around the U.S., the Red Cross has sheltered about 75,000 hurricane victims on recent nights, down from a peak of more than 143,000.
Still, said Kevin Titus, a Gulf Coast regional spokesman for the Red Cross, "The scale of this is just massive. We expect we'll be sheltering people for several months."
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Posted on Wed, Sep. 14, 2005
PASS CHRISTIAN | Home in the Pass
Residents get their first look at devastated community
By JOSHUA NORMAN and RYAN LaFONTAINE
SUN HERALD
PASS CHRISTIAN - Their grocery store has been cut to its slab. Their churches and schools are mountains of twisted rubble and crumpled brick.  Their houses are gone.  But, for most of the people returning Tuesday - the first time they were allowed back since Hurricane Katrina ripped their community apart - the Pass is still home.
Others are looking for a new start, away from the mangled coastline.
"I never dreamed it would be anything like this," Robert Bourdin said, as he sifted through the remains of his family's heating and air conditioning shop.  The beachfront building on Market Street survived Camille's 190-mph winds, but Katrina's massive wall of water toppled the entire block.
"My dad was 69 when Camille came along and I'm 68," he said. "I told my son that he should have another 30-something years before anything like this happens again."   His three children have plans to rebuild the business, and Bourdin said he plans to stick around too.  "The customer base is gone, but they were gone after Camille," he said. "They'll be back again."
The obliterated areas include all of Timber Ridge and Henderson Point, most of North Street, and parts of Scenic Drive and Second Street.
Earlier this week, Pass officials said more than 70 percent of the city's domiciles are unlivable. Several surveys of the town find the estimate reasonable.
Most of the city has been sealed for several days, but with proof of residency, homeowners are being allowed to enter the Pass from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., until Sunday, when city leaders will decide whether the most-ravished areas will remain open.
Hours before Katrina plowed into the Pass, Tra Van Nguyen and his wife, Chi Thi, left their home on Bayview Drive, seeking shelter in a shrimp boat in Mallini Bayou.  Trawling nets dangling from nearby pine trees are now the only signs that a shrimp boat captain once lived there.
Nguyen captains the 65-foot T.C., and with pieces of his home scattered through the neighborhood, he and his wife now call the aging boat home.
"All the house is gone," he said. "We need some help."
Nguyen, 54, has lived on Bayview since 1982, and with only barnacle-covered pilings left of the Pass harbor, he could be forced to move on.
"Maybe we will have to go farther west, to Morgan City, (Louisiana)," he said. "I don't know. The shrimping, all along here, is all gone."
Kay Love, a retired school teacher, and her husband, Rick, have enjoyed their waterfront home in Timber Ridge for the past 10 years.  But with their grandchildren living in other parts of the country, and 70 percent of the town blown to bits, she said there's little left to start from.  "I don't think people like us are going to wait for the community to come back," she said. "We're not going to rebuild here."
City officials, guarding the few functioning arteries leading into the city, handed fliers to returning homeowners, warning them of the mental health hazards of returning to this now-unrecognizable town.  The full-page warning twice tells residents, "You enter at your own risk."
Sean Logan, a real estate broker with his mother's Pass agency, crawled under his roof, which is resting on a washing machine and other appliances, hoping to grab a few of his son's toys.  Logan said the Pass is wounded, but it can be rebuilt.  "I'll take my chances. You just can't leave your hometown and run away every time a hurricane comes," he said. "You just got to hang in there and rebuild."
-- Sean Logan, Pass Christian real estate broker

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Posted on Tue, Sep. 13, 2005
70 percent of Pass Christian gone
By RYAN LaFONTAINE
SUN HERALD
PASS CHRISTIAN - About 70 percent of Pass Christian was wiped out by Katrina's muscle, officials said Monday, after they spent the last two weeks trying to save what they could.
"From what we are seeing, and from what the (U.S. Army) Corps of Engineers is telling us, we don't think there's one livable structure from Fleitas Avenue west to the bay," said Ward 2 Alderman Joe Piernas.
The area of obliteration includes all of Timber Ridge and Henderson Point, most of North Street, and parts of Scenic Drive.
The entire city has been sealed for several days, but today, homeowners can return to see the destruction for themselves.
Residents will need to be out of the city limits by 4 p.m., however, and the visitations could end as soon as Sunday.
"We are going to re-evaluate the situation again on Monday," Piernas said. "We will make another decision then."
Since Katrina smashed face-first into the Pass, city leaders have been frantically trying to save this harbor town from complete extinction.
Wednesday, Pass aldermen approved a contract to allow a company to begin repairing leaks and damage to the water line.
Officials plan to move into portable office buildings on Second Street, near the city park, sometime today. The buildings will serve as the new city hall, police and fire station.
A water well at the fire house is running, and while the water is not safe for drinking, officials have extended the line east to the city limits.
Pass leaders also plan to install a temporary sewer line along the CSX railway by the end of the week.
With the city knee-deep in restoration work, Piernas said the focus, at this point, is on salvaging what's left of the Pass, east of Fleitas Avenue.

Returning to the Pass
Effective at 8 a.m. today, Pass Christian residents can obtain passes for entrance into the city at Abbey Road and Menge Avenue.
• East of Fleitas, check in at the above location. There will be no time limit on the duration of visit if you have a house suitable for habitation.
• West of Fleitas, check in at the above location. Residents can be present only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• Residents of Henderson Point that are outside the city limits can enter at any checkpoint and be escorted to Henderson Point.
• Be prepared to show Mississippi identification and proof of residence, including a land deed, tax receipt, or utility bill that states that you have a right to be on the property you are trying to access.
• Access rules will be in effect for one week. The Board of Aldermen will meet on Monday to decide if any changes should be made.

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09/12/05
Pass Christian Evacuees About To Go Home
by Brad Kessie
WLOX
 Pass Christian evacuees stood in a line, thinking they were about to go home. But word quickly spread, their homes were still off limits.
"What does it take to show your ID, prove your address, and give you a pass?" one man asked.
The hurricane victims became noticeably angry.
"This is absurd," Susan Schertzer yelled. "It's two weeks. We ought to be able to get into our property."
They got a bit more irritated.
"Everyday they tell us, 'Tomorrow you can get in, tomorrow you can get in,'" mumbled Schertzer, knowing another brick wall prevented a Monday return to their homes.
Patience was finally running out.
"I mean I live in Pass Christian west of Davis," said Nanette Favre. "I want to go home and see my house. I haven't seen my house. I could just cry."
They've seen Katrina's unmerciful power from a distance. Now these Pass Christian residents want an upclose look at the devastation. So every morning, Pass Christian's evacuees line up at the Abbey Road Athletic Club, hoping to get a pass to venture into the disaster area.
"I don't have a house. All I have is a slab," one woman said. "I just have all my stuff spread out in my neighbors' lawns. I would like to retrieve a few personal belongings that I have."
But the city keeps saying no -- homes where these people live are off limits to everybody except rescue crews, because their neighborhoods are filled with debris, danger, and probably a few dead bodies.
A military police officer tried to play peacemaker.
"If you want to vent, I'll stand over here and you can come talk to me and vent," he told the crowd. "But remember, we're all trying to help each other out."
Help was something the crowd didn't feel like it was receiving from Pass Christian's leadership.
"They need to accommodate these people who have lost everything and allow them to salvage pieces of their life," one woman said.
Ron Rolfes drove back to Pass Christian from Mobile. He heard he could finally get to his house. He was wrong.
"This has been two weeks and we can't even get back to our property to try and salvage anything," he said. "I do know my house is flat on the ground. That I do know. But what's left, I don't know."
Pass Christian prevented people from going home for their protection. That didn't satisfy the people in line.
"It's just frustrating," a woman said. "I understand they have a job to do, and I don't mind that. But it's just frustrating. I just want to go home and just dig what I can out. I have no house. But I want to get what I can out."
Late Monday afternoon, Pass Christian aldermen finally decided to let residents go home. Starting Tuesday morning, people with valid IDs can cross a barrier and see what Hurricane Katrina did to their properties.

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 WLOX   09/12/05
Pass Christian Evacuees About To Go Home

 Pass Christian evacuees stood in a line, thinking they were about to go home.  But word quickly spread, their homes were still off limits.
"What does it take to show your ID, prove your address, and give you a pass?" one man asked.
The hurricane victims became noticeably angry.
"This is absurd," Susan Schertzer yelled. "It's two weeks.  We ought to be able to get into our property."
They got a bit more irritated.
"Everyday they tell us, 'Tomorrow you can get in, tomorrow you can get in,'" mumbled Schertzer, knowing another brick wall prevented a Monday return to their homes.
Patience was finally running out.
"I mean I live in Pass Christian west of Davis," said Nanette Favre. "I want to go home and see my house. I haven't seen my house. I could just cry."
They've seen Katrina's unmerciful power from a distance. Now these Pass Christian residents want an upclose look at the devastation. So every morning, Pass Christian's evacuees line up at the Abbey Road Athletic Club, hoping to get a pass to venture into the disaster area.
"I don't have a house. All I have is a slab," one woman said. "I just have all my stuff spread out in my neighbors' lawns. I would like to retrieve a few personal belongings that I have."
But the city keeps saying no -- homes where these people live are off limits to everybody except rescue crews, because their neighborhoods are filled with debris, danger, and probably a few dead bodies.
A military police officer tried to play peacemaker.
"If you want to vent, I'll stand over here and you can come talk to me and vent," he told the crowd. "But remember, we're all trying to help each other out."
Help was something the crowd didn't feel like it was receiving from Pass Christian's leadership.
"They need to accommodate these people who have lost everything and allow them to salvage pieces of their life," one woman said.
Ron Rolfes drove back to Pass Christian from Mobile. He heard he could finally get to his house. He was wrong.
"This has been two weeks and we can't even get back to our property to try and salvage anything," he said. "I do know my house is flat on the ground. That I do know. But what's left, I don't know."
Pass Christian prevented people from going home for their protection. That didn't satisfy the people in line.
"It's just frustrating," a woman said. "I understand they have a job to do, and I don't mind that. But it's just frustrating. I just want to go home and just dig what I can out. I have no house. But I want to get what I can out."
Late Monday afternoon, Pass Christian aldermen finally decided to let residents go home. Starting Tuesday morning, people with valid IDs can cross a barrier and see what Hurricane Katrina did to their properties.

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 Picking up the Pieces in Pass Christian, Miss.
By Jim Garamone    American Forces Press Service
PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (9/12/2005) — This city of 9,000 people is gone.
     There isn't a structure in this coastal city that Hurricane Katrina didn't destroy or damage. The antebellum homes that lined Route 90 along the beach have been reduced to kindling. The only thing left of homes is often a concrete slab scoured by sand and water and some brick columns.
     Pass Christian's city hall? Gone. The city's police station? Gone. Stores? Homes? Condos? All are gone.
     Servicemembers who served in Sarajevo, Bosnia, have an idea of the destruction in this city, but instead of bullet holes and artillery craters, the marks here are the water level marks on trees that survived the storm surge and the shells of houses that lean crazily to one side or another.
     The village has been searched. Some died trying to ride the storm out in their homes. Guardsmen and local officials have searched every structure - you can't really call them houses anymore - in Pass Christian. The orange X's marked on the structures tell what they have found.
     But there are signs of life. National Guardsmen from around the country are guarding the streets to ensure residents can recover what hasn't been washed out to sea.
     Seabees from nearby Gulfport and engineers from the Mississippi Guard have cleared the streets, so Humvees and some personal vehicles can come in. A church group from Jackson, Miss., passes out food to those working in the ghost town. Doctors from Blacksburg, Va., work with local care providers to ensure everyone is healthy and has tetanus shots.
     Katrina picked up a house in one neighborhood and dumped it under an awning at a gas station/convenience store. Under that awning are supplies donated from people all around the United States. Residents who need diapers or food or cleaning supplies can come by and pick them up. Under that awning and in the shadow of the house is Pass Christian's emergency operations center - a trailer sprouting high-tech antennas and manned by police and local official     Pass Christian, in short, is picking itself up with a lot of help from the rest of the United States.
     One woman was indicative. She rode out the storm in her beach cottage. "Pretty stupid, huh?" she asked.  She felt she was in no danger because her home is 26 feet above sea level, plus none of the shelters would allow her to bring her pets. "They are my babies," she said. "I couldn't leave them." The water rose into her house, and she and her pets climbed into the bathtub as their last refuge. The water rose to the rim and she thought she was going to die. Then the water started dropping. The home right next door is nothing but kindling.  And now she is in her bungalow trying to salvage what she can. The home is still standing, and it is still on its foundation. She said she loves the town and the people in it.
     And the people who work there feel the same. "This city is 80 percent totally destroyed," said Pass Christian Police Sgt. Bryan Deem. The sergeant is sunburned and hoarse from his near-constant duty.
     "I lost everything, but I'm still alive," he said. "When this is all over, I'll probably go back to what's left of my home, cry a bit and drink a beer. Then I'll come on back."

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Summary of key Katrina issues --- Posted at WPMI.com  (Florida panhandle TV)
Last Update: 9/12/2005 6:33:26 AM
A look at the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:
DEATH TOLL: Mississippi's death toll rose to 214.
DAMAGE: In Pass Christian, where Katrina leveled 90 percent of the buildings, the police department is operating out of a trailer.  Some churches held open-air services Sunday due to damage to their buildings.
REFUGEES: 11,063 in 115 Red Cross shelters in Mississippi, with more in motels, hotels and private homes.
POWER: About 73,000 homes and businesses were without power Sunday, down from 800,000 immediately after the hurricane.

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Posted on Mon, Sep. 12, 2005     
DuPont: No chemical leaks
Plant officials conduct tour
By RYAN LaFONTAINE
SUN HERALD
DELISLE - During an unprecedented tour of the DuPont titanium dioxide facility here Sunday, plant officials told reporters that no evidence was found of chemicals being scattered into the environment by Hurricane Katrina.
"We are pleased to report that the plant performed well," said Pat Nichols, the DeLisle plant manager.
A severe-weather dome at the facility, built 35 feet above sea level and capable of withstanding 400 mph winds, housed 24 employees during the storm.
Safety Manager Steve Fayard, a member of the severe-weather team, has lived in the dome for the past two weeks, sleeping on one of the many cots that line the circular building.
"We didn't have any environmental releases before, during or after the storm," he said.
While Katrina left the dome without a scar, the levee system designed to keep the plant from leaking its contents into St. Louis Bay was not as scratch-free, though it did not leak into the bay.
Rubble littered the levee, and most of the railroad system along the levee was destroyed. The system was built 20 feet above sea level, and Dan Sloan, a plant engineer, said saltwater from the bay was pushed to about 8 feet above the levee.
Officials added that an assessment of another system of levees, protecting several containment ponds, showed no significant damage.
Even lines of debris are wrapped around the ponds, near an area where coke and ore waste is spread. The lines are evidence of the water flooding the plant, however, the rubble is about 20 feet below the closest pond.
DuPont officials expect the plant to remain dormant for several weeks, while inspectors continue detailed tests to survey the damage.
The DeLisle facility is the second-largest producer of super-white titanium dioxide in the U.S.
Last month, a Bay St. Louis oyster fisherman was awarded $14 million in a lawsuit against the chemical giant. The plaintiff said dioxins from the plant caused his cancer.
The suit was the first of nearly 2,000 suits filed by former employees and residents, making similar allegations.
Later this week, DuPont executives plan to release the daily dollar amount lost during the plant's post-Katrina shutdown.

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Posted on Fri, Sep. 09, 2005
Coiled razor wire separates people, beach areas
By Meera Pal and Karen Nelson, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Sep. 9--GULFPORT - Double rows of coiled razor wire went up along the railroad tracks in Long Beach and Gulfport to keep people out of the most severely damaged areas of the cities.
And it's coming for Pass Christian and parts of Biloxi, according the Col. Joe Spraggins, director of emergency operations in Harrison County.
Spraggins said the wire, also known as concertina, is needed because it is impossible to patrol the 60 miles from one end Harrison County to the other and will help control gaps where people are slipping through to go into the beach areas. It goes up fast, should only be in place a few weeks and will go down fast as well.
When Lynn Bauer drove along Railroad Avenue in Long Beach on Friday morning, she was shocked to see a fence crew based out of Lumberton laying the wire.
"My first thought was that it's meant to keep us out," Bauer said.  Bauer and her husband, Al, have been driving to their Mills Avenue home, south of the railroad tracks since Katrina hit, to salvage what they can.
The water came up three feet in their home.
When Lynn Bauer saw the razor wire, she said she was hurt. It reminded her of a concentration camp.
The crew from Albritton Fence Dispensing Co. began laying the wire at 9 a.m. at the Long Beach-Gulfport border and headed west.
They were told to lay it from Biloxi to the Bay area, roughly 30 miles, said Galen Clayton, a Tennessee National guardsman helping the crew.
"Anyone who tries to climb over this fence must really want something on the other side real bad," said Josh Necaise, who works with the fencing company. He and Caleb Lambert showed the cuts they had received just from laying it.
When told that some people's reaction has been that it smacks of a concentration camp, Spraggins said, "They're not in a concentration camp. Intersections will be open."
But, Spraggins, said, there are long stretches where people can walk across the tracks and officials are trying to stop that.
Spraggins said that each city with the wire will have checkpoints of access to the beach areas. Each city will determine who is allowed in and for what reasons.
Biloxi is trying to cordon off their critical areas -- Eagle Point and Point Cadet -- without using the wire.
"We don't think that we need to use that means at this time," said Vincent Creel, spokesman for the city. "But I can appreciate the situation in Gulfport where there is a serious health concern."
The announcement about Long Beach came from Mayor Billy Skellie at a mid-morning press conference in Gulfport on Friday, along with a list of checkpoints where residents will be able to get through the wire if they can prove they have a reason to go in.
In Long Beach they will be allowed in, for example, if they have insurance or FEMA representatives to show their property to, officials said.
Debris, damaged buildings and gas lines and the fact that there is almost no water pressure south of the tracks makes the area very dangerous, they said.
"We're trying to protect people's property. We don't want to harm them," Skellie said. "The rumor that we're keeping people out so we can bulldoze is not true."

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Posted on Wed, Sep. 07, 2005
PASS CHRISTIAN: Mayor incommunicado
By Joshua Norman
The Sun Herald
PASS CHRISTIAN - The mayor of Pass Christian is not in Pass Christian anymore, and has only been seen infrequently since Hurricane Katrina hit.
Mayor Billy McDonald, who became mayor in October 1995, has not been in the Pass for any length of time. In fact, the Board of Aldermen have been meeting without McDonald to try to keep the city running and board attorney Malcolm Jones has assumed command.
Alderman-at-Large Chip McDermott said Tuesday that McDonald stopped by briefly once or twice.
Pass Christian was hit especially hard by Hurricane Katrina and has been called part of the epicenter of the storm. It also was where Hurricane Camille hit hardest when that Category 5 storm hit in 1969.
"Usually, when a bad hurricane comes, it's got 39571 (Zip Code) written on it," McDermott said. "West Pass Christian is about done. East Pass is what we have left.
"The rest of the town has got to find a place to stay."
McDermott also said Escambia and Bay counties in Florida and Daphne, Ala., have sent help in the form of emergency and municipal vehicles.
The police force is reduced to five vehicles and the fire department is down to three.
City Engineer John Campton said the town is "It's nothing but a mud flat."
There are only two points of access in and out of the Pass: Menge and Espy avenues. They are only letting in electrical crews, emergency personnel. Otherwise, residents who wish to check their homes must be accompanied by a FEMA representative or an insurance agent or adjuster.
People still living in the city as of Sept. 5 will be the only residents allowed to stay in the city after dark.
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Pass Christian City Attorney assumes leadership position
by Joshua Norman Sun Herald
Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2005
Pass Christian – The mayor of Pass Christian is not in town anymore and has only been seen infrequently since Hurricane Katrina hit.
     Mayor Billy McDonald, who took the office in October 1995, rode out the storm in his home but left shortly thereafter because of family issues, said City Attorney Malcolm Jones.  In fact, Jones has assumed command and the Board of Aldermen has been meeting without McDonald to try to keep the city running.
     McDonald couldn’t be reached for comment.
     Jones, whose official title now is chief administrative officer, said he returned to Pass Christian a couple of days after the storm ended, saw there was work to be done and just started doing it.  Before long, he said he received the blessing of the fire sand police chiefs and the Board of Aldermen and has been working nonstop.
     “We are literally still trying to get our heads up, said Jones, who has been Pass Christian’s city attorney off and on since 1985.
     “We lost city hall, the police station, Fire Station No.2, the city court building, and our recreation office.”
     “Usually, when a bad hurricane comes, it’s got (ZIP code) 39671 written on it,” said Alderman-at-large Chip McDermott.
     “West Pass Christian is about done.  East Pass is what we have left,” he said.  “The rest of the town has got to find a place to stay.”
     People still living in the city as of Monday will be the only residents allowed to stay there after dark.  Jones said he and the Board of Aldermen will meet weekly to decide when residents would be allowed back in to recover their belongings and that nothing would be bulldozed until that happens.
     Large parts of the western edge of town will soon be fenced off, Jones said, even to those residents still in the city.
     Jones said he and the aldermen made the hard decision to basically shut down Pass Christian because of three major dangers: Gas leaks, mountains of rubble, and the bodies of hurricane victims that have yet to be located.
     The good news, Jones said, is that water and electricity service have already returned to many of the less-damaged neighborhoods.  “We’re working hard.”

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Fredna Bennett stayed behind with her dogs and her rabbit -- she didn't want to leave them behind. But she says, never again. Bennett said, “I thought…we're not going to make it…It was devastating. I just can't imagine doing it again. Never. I'm so sorry."
And another Pass Christian resident has the unthinkable job of pulling dead bodies from the rubble.
"Kinda hard to count 'em. I know I pulled myself three that I know of - and there's just an untold number of 'em out there," Rob Florie commented.
He now says he will leave this area for good. "You drag somebody out of the rubble you grew up with,” Florie said, “that’s pretty tough."
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Survivor Inspires Awe In Mississippi Town
By BEN MONTGOMERY
bmontgomery@tampatrib.com
Published: Sep 4, 2005
PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. - When the saltwater receded and the people of this little town came out from attics and down from trees, they began to notice the peculiarities.
Hurricane Katrina, people noticed, had been mysteriously selective.
The storm destroyed nearly every structure built with Mississippi sweat and steel and brick on Davis Street but left the slender, green street sign in the town square that pointed the way to Antiques, Shops, Ball Fields, Plumbing and Mower Svc., like a reminder of where things used to be.
The storm cut a swath through a mobile home park, twisting tin and shredding fiberglass insulation, but left unharmed a Sno Cone stand down the street.
It chomped the front off Lela Weems' old home but safely deposited her two precious rosary beads in her kitchen sink.
Though the metal roof was torn from a storage shed, the Mardi Gras floats inside belonging to the krewes of Boogaloo and Voo-Doo were ready for another Fat Tuesday; the large plywood crawfish atop Boogaloo's float hadn't lost so much as a whisker.
But no peculiarity - or miracle, as some here are saying - was as remarkable, as chilling, as what was found inside St. Paul's Church on Scenic Drive.
------ ``Charlie's truck is under there,'' said Chantal Dessommes, a clinical skin therapist who grew up here, pointing toward the remains of the top half of a house near the Gulf. ``And these trees, he must have been up in one of these trees.''
Charlie is her boyfriend. He's a lawyer, and practically everybody knows him. She thinks he rode the storm out in a live oak and wound up in a hospital in De Lisle, the next town over, though she can't be sure, even if one of the Pass firemen did see him hitch-hiking in that direction the day after the storm.
Dessommes (pronounced de-SOHM) didn't know what to do this day, so she walked toward downtown and wound up with other wide-eyed wanderers who had nothing to do but assess and salvage and wonder about tomorrow.
She hitched a ride and soon found herself along Scenic Drive, gently stepping over items the sea had stolen from individuals, then given back to the whole community: Mardi Gras beads, a car jack, a ceramic clown, Christmas lights, a bottle of Jack Daniels, pictures of a hunter holding a turkey, a spoon.
Up the road, choppers buzzed in twos down the beach, and Dessommes couldn't figure out where she was for a moment in her hometown of 6,500. She finally got her bearings upon noticing a store that looked as if it had vomited thousands of spools of yarn into the street.
``That must be the yarn store,'' she said. ``OK. I see. That was my vet right down there to the right. That's where I paid my power bill. OK. I can't believe nobody's here.''
As if on cue, Mike Scaldina wandered down the street in jean shorts and work boots and mud to his chest. Scaldina said he floated on three mattresses for 2 1/2 hours with his wife and children in the storm, whispering to his kids the whole time.
``Relax. Lay down. We're going for a ride.''
``My stuff is from here to over there,'' he told her. ``I'm just trying to find what I can.''
A man passed carrying four hard drives. Another had a chalice and an offering plate. Dessommes said goodbye, good luck, and walked toward St. Paul's.
------ Hurricane Camille hit here at 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 17, 1969, and the old folks on the front porches remember that storm. It was bad.
The water came up over Highway 90, then Scenic Drive, then through the beachfront homes and businesses, wasting many buildings, giving scare to antebellum waterfront mansions and ruining the original clapboard St. Paul's Catholic Church, which was built in 1874. The remnants of the church - broken pieces of stained glass, a crucifix with a broken arm, battered Stations of the Cross, a cross from the old steeple - were collected and sold to parishioners as keepsakes.
In the months and years that followed, the names of the 78 victims of Camille from Pass Christian were etched into a marble memorial, then erected in Memorial Park. St. Paul's was rebuilt along with the town, this time designed by architects mindful of a hurricane.
The giant cross that was planted out front was made aerodynamic to withstand storm winds. The building itself was constructed much like an A-frame, with one slanted side facing the Gulf to help guide the bulk of the building under hurricane winds.
Perhaps it would have withstood a reasonable storm.
Katrina, however, was not reasonable.
Blocks along Scenic Drive, where the nouveau riche from New Orleans built mansions in the mid-1800s, were now hills of brick and driftwood. The only thing that remained of a waterfront McDonald's was the foundation and a drive-through sign. The huge marble monument for Camille victims was toppled into the dirt of Memorial Park.
``What made Pass Christian Pass Christian is not here anymore,'' said William Jeanes, a former editor in chief of Car and Driver magazine whose Scenic Drive home was ruined. ``It's all gone.''
Not quite.
Two weeks ago, on the 36th anniversary of Hurricane Camille, a good number of the 814 families of St. Paul's dedicated a building to the east called Damascus House. The cottage was donated to the church. When word spread of the donation, it was decided the building would make a fine repository for tattered artifacts recovered after Camille.
The restoration committee mounted the relics on the walls, like in a museum. There was a faulted crucifix, stained glass windows that had been stored in Lolette Wittmann's garage, a 100-year-old confessional door.
``We are pleased about this,'' the Rev. Dennis Carver told the Southern Mississippi Sun Herald, ``because the Damascus House is a connection to the deeper roots of the community.''
Roots of pain, loss, perseverance, rebuilding, newness. Memories of what this church was before the storm and the struggle to be something again.
But no one expected what came next.
------ The church's brick walls had holes big enough to drive a Dodge through. Rebar hung in the front entrance. The pews were gone, the muddy carpet stripped from the cement foundation.
The hurricane-proof building looked like a park pavilion.
Dessommes looked inside, then asked to be alone. She walked to the middle of what was the sanctuary.
Outside, in a room in a school behind the church, Don Watson noticed some visitors and walked to the church.
``I can't quit looking at it,'' said Watson, a dirty man in a sleeveless T-shirt who took shelter with another man in St. Paul's school. ``I lost my house, my truck, everything. But I almost cried when I saw that.''
There in the wasted church, suspended over blocks upon blocks of rubble in all directions, was an untouched statue of Jesus on a cross.
The giant crucifix was attached to the ceiling by two thin wires that were visible up close.
To the left and right were stained-glass windows depicting the Stations of the Cross. None was broken, though half the windows surrounding them were.
Word spread quickly through Pass Christian of the miracle at St. Paul's Catholic Church. The man whose family donated the crucifix rushed over when he heard.
``They've been telling me about this, my brothers have,'' said Tim Taylor, upon seeing the crucifix in memory of his mother, Ruth Provosty Taylor. ``Boy. That's amazing.''
He walked toward the cross and was silent for a while. He began to cry.
``It's overwhelming,'' he said. ``Just tough. Just overwhelming.''
Emergency officials in Pass Christian dragged at least 12 bodies from the ruin by the Wal-Mart down U.S. 90, the Pensacola News Journal reported. Rescue crews expected to find many more in one of the hardest-hit small towns on the coast.
Inside a gutted little church on a hill, Chantal Dessommes looked up at Jesus.
She walked toward the dangling statue, her hand over her mouth. She said a prayer lots of folks here were saying as the choppers buzzed overhead and the sun fell toward another night.
``God help me.''

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Posted on Tue, Aug. 30, 2005
National Guardsmen make foray into Pass Christian
By DON HAMMACK
SUN HERALD
Staff Sgt. John Freeman led his detachment of the 890th Engineering Battalion in an effort to get into Pass Christian once the storm subsided Monday afternoon.
He wasn't sure exactly where he was going, with the Purvis residence not having much local knowledge.
"We've just got a county map," Freeman said. "We hunt-and-peck until we get there."
They made it down Railroad Street in Long Beach, turning up Beatline Road through some localized flooding at the 90-degree turn. They went up to the Industrial Park, cut across to Espy Avenue and started back south.
They made it to Second Street, where they found a house in the middle of the road. They didn't make it far down the road when the were flagged down by folks directing them to two American Medical Response EMTs.
They'd lost their vehicle to the water and were walking out when they ran into a rescue opportunity. A man jumped out of his second-story, but was trapped by his house when it collapsed.
The EMTs got the man out, took him to a neighbor's house and treated him for a collapsed lung.
The Guard realized they weren't going to get much farther with darkness setting in, so they packed up the patient and EMTs and met up with another ambulance to get the patient evacuated.
"We're going back in there with the big equipment today," said Freeman.

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