Hurricane Katrina

Tiny town to boomtown

KILN - If there were a downtown here it would be in front of Dolly's Quick Stop, where the town's only stoplight dangles above the intersection of Mississippi 603 and Kiln-DeLisle Road.

Not long after Katrina landed a knockout punch across the jaw of Hancock County, this quiet, everyone-knows-everyone community quickly morphed into a congested, car-honking "big city."

Many Bay St. Louis and Waveland residents whose homes were blasted to bits moved north to the Kiln, and out-of-town workers here to help pick up the pieces have settled in.

Old-timers, who habitually sat in the same seat every morning at Dolly's for coffee and a newspaper, have had to wake up extra early to beat the rush.

Six months ago the traffic was thick, there were long lines at just about any business with an "open" sign hanging out front, and turning onto 603 from one of the narrow dirt-covered side roads was nearly impossible.

"The traffic out here has gotten a lot better, but it's still bad because of all the trucks going to the dump," said Dolly Lee, who co-owns the store with her sister-in-law, whose name is also Dolly Lee.

Lee said she thinks the hectic rush of customers at the quick stop has leveled off, or maybe "we've just gotten used to it."

At the Broke Spoke, a rowdy barroom where women staple their bras to the ceiling and customers sign their names on the building, business for more than two decades boomed mostly on weekends and holidays.

But now, with many of the county's watering holes still closed or destroyed, a large crowd of thirsty blue-collar workers usually crams into the Broke Spoke on just about any night of the week.

The convoy of large trucks hauling storm debris to two dirt pits on Kiln-DeLisle Road should stop sometime this summer, and the county - backed by federal funds - is expected to start repairing the roads soon after.

What Katrina did

Downed power poles and trees covering the roads kept most of Kiln without power for at least a week, longer in some areas. Fewer than half of the homes flooded. Some homes along Kiln-DeLisle Road didn't get water, but still were demolished, possibly from tornadic winds.

The series

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.