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Mississippi Neighborhood Trying To Restore Holiday Spirit

Posted August 30, 2006
Updated November 10, 2006

— Mollere Drive in this coastal Mississippi town used to be known as Christmas Card Lane because of its festive holiday decorations.

But Hurricane Katrina was the Grinch that stole Mollere Drive's Christmas. After the storm raked the area a year ago, all that was left of the street was an empty wasteland dotted by the occasional trailer supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Still, resident John Impson is determined to bring back the holiday spirit. Although his house was destroyed, he amazingly found his Christmas decorations intact in part of his attic that had blown several houses away and was left under 6 feet of debris.

"I was able to find them all and bring them back, and we're going to use them again," Impson said.

The unofficial mayor of the neighborhood, Impson is the first resident on Mollere Drive to rebuild, and he hopes his neighbors will soon follow. He now shoos away looters and watches out for neighbors who still live in trailers.

"I feel good every moment when we come out and you see something else done. Progress is being made," he said, flashing a big grin as construction workers toil on the frame of his new house in the hot August sun.

"I can't even explain the feeling that I have by seeing the changes," said Harold Kent, who lives down Mollere Drive from Impson.

Only 2,500 people now call Waveland home, as opposed to 10,000 before Katrina. The storm destroyed or damaged 95 percent of the buildings in town, and residents who rebuild must raise their homes so they are at least 23 feet above sea level.

Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo said a determined group of residents is slowly rebuilding the community, but people continue to having difficulty finding money to rebuild.

"The heart and soul is our residents, and we can't get them back until they get the wherewithal to rebuild," Longo said.

In addition to erecting a new house, Impson said he plans to rebuild the tradition of Christmas Card Lane. The annual trolley-rides down the festive street might not happen this year, but holiday decorations will be lit up, he said.

"It's coming back, it's coming back. No question, no question," Impson said.

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