Hurricane Katrina

VACATION LANE IN WAVELAND: Holding out for hope

WAVELAND - Some things have changed on Vacation Lane since November. More trailers - FEMA or otherwise - dot the street. Massive amounts of debris, including the overturned and crushed yellow St. Clare school bus, have been carted away.

Other things remain the same. The few trees that are still standing wear a scar on their trunks 30 feet up, where Katrina's surge slammed pieces of homes into them. On a recent morning, the street was as quiet as it was after the storm. The distant sounds of land-clearing equipment are occasionally interrupted by screeches from gulls circling overheard.

The remaining residents' steadfast resolve is at about the same level as right after the storm, too.

"We intend to stay. We've already started to rebuild," Harvey Cooper said as he looked over the cement blocks that will raise his house the FEMA-required 2 feet and 2 inches. "I think the community will be better when people rebuild. I saw it after Camille. After five years, it was better. I think this will take a bit longer."

But that resolve is not universal along the street. Cooper said that about 50 percent of his neighbors had decided to sell their properties instead of rebuilding.

Shirley Salters, a neighbor farther up the street, worries about how the closing of the St. Clare School and church will change the community.

"It's a big deal," she said from her trailer's porch. "I think it will come back, but it will be years before it is the same as it was. It was a nice community."

Salters' neighbor who owns her property, Andy Giaconi, said he was just waiting for Waveland's officials to give final elevation approval before he starts rebuilding. He thinks the community will come back as single-family homes built tougher to withstand storms.

"Once they start rebuilding, it will be better than it was. That's what they say," Giaconi said. "I believe it."

What Katrina did

Katrina wiped out St. Clare Catholic Church and almost every house on the street up to the railroad tracks. The few houses left standing appeared uninhabitable in the days after the storm.

The series

The Sun Herald this month continues its 30 Communities in 30 Days series, which looks at how area neighborhoods are recovering from Hurricane Katrina. We will update these stories every six months.