Video: Katrina-devastated town feels forgotten

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 10/4/2005 7:52:59 PM ET 2005-10-04T23:52:59

It's a common frustration you hear voiced in Waveland. People here don't think the world really understands how hard they were hit.

"There was one reporter who was here for a day and a half and then he moved on to New Orleans," says Waveland resident Joan Coleman. "And then when Rita came in, everybody forgot about the whole coast of Mississippi, not just Waveland."

But Waveland is an especially sad town. There are no glitzy waterfront casinos here. It is just home after home, totally destroyed.

"We know that 60 percent of the town is basically wiped off the map," says Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo. "But then there are probably another 20 percent of uninhabitable structures.”

Temporary housing is slowly making its way here, and there is food and water. A charity serves meals in a tent dubbed the Waveland Cafe. Red Cross trucks make the rounds, and Wal-Mart, with its giant tent erected in the center of town, has led the recovery effort. Its massive distribution system was able to get supplies to Waveland before FEMA or the Red Cross.

But Wal-Mart employees like Kelly Ball are fighting the same battles as everyone else. She drives 10 miles out of her way to fill up her car so she can get to work.

"I'm realizing that I have nothing left," she says.

Money is a major stress, as she tries to care for her 4-year-old daughter who was traumatized by the storm.

"She can't have what she used to," says Ball. "[I'm] just trying to redo it, just make her happy, really."

The mayor says his toughest job right now is being a counselor to people who need a place to vent.

"Keep your chin up," he tells one resident.

"I'm trying, but they condemn[ed] my house," is one woman's reply.

Everyone in Waveland is in the same boat.

"Everybody has virtually lost everything they have," says mayor Longo. "And they just want an answer, 'Where do I go from here?'"

Many are grieving for friends and family who died in Katrina. The death toll for this county stands at 49, with 19 people still unaccounted for.

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