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Picayune Update

October 29, 2005

Picayune population explodes

  • Storm linked to uptick

    By Lora Hines

  • PICAYUNE Customers have been buying items at Claiborne Hill Super Market as fast as employees stock the shelves.

    This city has seen a significant population increase since Hurricane Katrina struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast almost two months ago. Picayune, which used to have a population of 10,535, now has between 30,000 and 40,000 people.

    "We're struggling to serve our customers as we try to hire more employees," Claiborne Hill manager Sam Levy said as he waited on Western Union customers. "We've increased deliveries from two days a week to three days.

    "The store was growing before Katrina. We've surpassed all our goals."

    Towns such as Picayune and Hattiesburg have become new or temporary homes to thousands of Katrina victims. No one knows how many cities have become home to victims, but about 80 percent of the state's evacuees stayed in Mississippi, according to the governor's office. Of those people, 77 percent remain in the same ZIP code in which they lived before the storm


  • Picayune is about 20 miles from the Louisiana state line and has picked up a lot of people from that state. Home to Paul's Pastry Shop, which bakes and ships Mardi Gras king cakes throughout the country, Picayune is about 25 miles inland from the Mississippi Sound.

    Resident Christa Basoca said it doesn't take long to notice more people have moved to town.

    "You usually have to stand in line for everything now," she said. "There's more traffic. It's frustrating."

    Leroy Templet, whose Long Beach home near the water was obliterated by Katrina on Aug. 29, now lives in Picayune. His mother and girlfriend both live in the city, he said. He has decided to stay.

    "I've met a lot of people here like me," Templet said, "but I miss my beach."

    Picayune did not sustain widespread devastation such as Waveland, Bay St. Louis or Pearlington in nearby Hancock County. Blue tarps still cover the roofs of many of Picayune's houses and businesses.

    Longtime Picayune real estate agent Glen Ford of Ford Realty said the city's housing market is overwhelmed by evacuees who are looking for property to buy. Fred and Sue Ellis of Slidell, La., recently looked at a few homes in the area.

    "We got washed out of Slidell," said Fred Ellis, whose home was filled with about 5 feet of water. "This is our second visit here. We love Picayune."

    Ford said his office used to sell about 15 properties a month. That number has doubled since the storm, he said.

    "People are coming here to buy faster than we can list properties," he said. "I think we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg. There will be more as people get their insurance checks."

    On average, houses in Picayune cost $71,300, according to U.S. Census information. Most residents describe themselves as managers and professionals. The city's median household income is $26,958, according to Census data.

    Katrina also has put a strain on Picayune's police force. Before the storm, officers responded to an average of 3,000 calls a month, Chief Jim Luke said. Now, they're up to as many as 6,000 calls per month. Traffic congestion has led to more accidents, and officers are handling more drug cases and other crimes, Luke said.

    Officers from throughout the country have been helping Luke's 32 officers maintain order. But that extra help won't last indefinitely.

    "It's a blessing to have them to preserve order," Luke said, "but they're not intended to be a long-term fix."

    The population bump has its challenges, but Luke and other officials want their newest residents to stay.

    "We see this as an opportunity for the county," he said. "This is an excellent place to relocate a business and to live."

    The city needs federal help to hire more police officers and other employees to provide quality service, Luke said as he pointed out two municipal excellence awards his department has received. "I think we can't keep that bar up unless we get that manpower we need," he said.

    Hattiesburg is another city that has has been inundated with evacuees and relief workers.

    "Hattiesburg ordinarily has been the fourth-largest city in the state," said Shari Veazey of the Mississippi Municipal League. "Mayor Johnny Dupree has said it now feels like it is No. 2. The infrastructure is not prepared for it."

    Veazey said cities as far north as Batesville have become temporary homes.



    Information found on various forums and emails from people on the scene.

    09/06/05 - More News From J. Kahl in Texas - I asked Mr. Kahl how he got to Picayune and back so soon and here's what he wrote:

    Well I got word from my dad via cell phone that the interstate was open. 
    So I loaded up and took off like I might be there awhile but got very lucky
    and made it there and back in one day. I wouldn't recommend trying it gas is
    hard to get through out the trek. But if you do be careful, like I said the
    trees and power lines are everywhere. My brother called this morning via cell
    phone and said the water came on temp. at Rock Ranch.  So he thinks by later
    today they'll have it back on. He said the Sunflower store he works at has
    power now so they are at almost full operations. People are packing in buying
    meat like savages. So be patient trying to get food. It's hard on everyone. As I
    passed by Claiborne Hill grocery on hwy 43 North store yesterday the
    national guard was setup giving out those MRE meals water and ice. It
    was a mad house the lines were very long. I hope that the info helps everyone
    feel free to e-mail I'll try to answer everyone.

    09/05/05 - More News From J. Kahl in Texas:  Well I just got back from Picayune, it's awful.  Trees (and) power lines all twisted together, what's not laying in the roads. But on a better note they are working furiously to restore power. Every where you go power trucks are trying to untangle the twisted mess of trees, broken poles, and down power lines. Those poor guys have their jobs cut out for them. In McNeil the general store had power today for the first time and was awaiting a gas truck. The lines elsewhere were awful.  I'm glad I brought extra gas for myself.  I delivered my generator, gas, ice and sodas to the family. They were in good spirits but looked wore out from trying to get trees away from the driveway and off roofs.  Thank goodness there weren't major repairs on my family's end, just from the drive I tried to access the damages. Looks like the trees were just uprooted just enough away from devastating most all the houses I saw. God blessed a lot of folks. The cleanup looks unimaginable but with a lot of hard work and years I'm sure everyone will just have memories of this devastation.

    09/05/05. The Sun Herald has a good message board for Picayune and Carriere, MS. The newest messages are at the end of the section. Good news all in all from Picayune.  Police and Fire Departments went house to house and those who needed help got it right away. No hurricane deaths, one heart attack that could be attributed to the storm. 

    In my search for my kinfolk I found the best database to be at Because you can sort that database by clicking the top of the columns. Sort by date, last name, city, state, status. You can set the pages to show up to 200 entries with each search. Makes looking for people of a certain town easier.

    Unfortunately there's so many lists and message boards and no central database to look for folks. I listed as many as I could find on my Katrina Survivor page.

    09/05/05: The Weather Channel has a message board that's organized by cities. This is a link that goes to the Picayune section of that message board. Newer messages are at the end.

    09/04/05 News via Texas about Picayune:  He (Eric Kahl) told me that everyone's holding up ok they are working on power lines in Picayune some places are starting to get power but all of the family is still without. I told him that Monday I would try to bring my generator to them because they are trying to get some out of Stennis, but its not setup quite yet for distribution. I hope what info I'm getting helps eases people's minds, it sure has eased mine. I'll keep letting you know as I get it. Oh by the way, my brother told me Pearl River Central will not be taking students back till NOVEMBER

    09/04/05 Praise GOD! Sherry and Butch Kuttner, Picayune, Mississippi are ALIVE - Some damage to their home but at least they have a home. Everyone is needing gasoline for generators, batteries and flash lights.

    From:  melissas  through SunHerald Forum Sep-2 11:14 am 

    Just wanted to let everyone know: I just talked to a gentleman at the Picayune radio station (many thanks to the kind person who posted that 800 number!), and I was told -- pretty emphatically -- that there were *no* storm-related casualties in Picayune, barring a heart attack victim that might have resulted from the storm, according to the Assistant Chief of the Picayune Fire Department. I don't suppose that eliminates storm-related injuries, but it sure made me feel a lot better. I'd still like to get something definite about my sister, Sue Frierson, though.

    09/03/05- Just got this in my email :

    My manager from Picayune told me last night that someone was shot at a gas station; fighting over gas.  Then the Walmart was shut down due to a big fight that broke out.  For the most part everyone is fine.  They get water and ice everyday from Convoy of Hope. I will say though the food is starting to run out.  If you want a hot meal, it involves waiting in line in your car at city hall and a lot of people can't do that.  I'll update you as I learn more of what's going on.


    Angel Bobby Picayune MS Evacuated to Lafayette, LA
    Duke Jessica and family Picayune MS Evacuated to San Antonio, TX
    Morrison Monica and children Picayune MS Safe in Olive Branch, MS


    Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2005 10:47 am - - Eursula Goff and family in Picayune all are well! No power and a couple of trees on house.

    09/02/05- 11am Pacific: Just received this from Texas

    "My sister-in-law and kids showed up today from carriere they say pearl river at Palestine is over the road impassable but most roads like hwy 11 McNeil henlyfield road is passable hwy 43 is passable Claiborne hill grocery on picayune hwy 43 north has ice and water and prepackaged food when available. No word of major fatalities are being given at this time sorry I can't be of more help but if you need info feel free to e-mail I'll ask my sister-in-law if she knows more god bless and keep up your site its a blessing."

                                 J Kahl

    09/02/05, 2am Pacific: From everything I can find it seems that Picayune fared much better than the cities along the Gulf Shore. Downed trees, no electricity or phone service. There is food, water, shelter and volunteers helping folks out. It'll take until mid September until they figure they'll have power back up. Since FEMA has closed the road there for non-essential transport of aid to the Gulf Shore some folks who are headed back might have trouble getting back into Picayune.

    09/02/05 Updated and names added  or

    I'll list each name that I find that is listed as alive for Picayune. I can only copy information found there as is. I have no way to verify. Some folks are listing people as alive but are clearly looking for them, not that the folks have been found. I'm having to sort through these.

    If you see a loved one below go to the link above and double check by last name. Click on the result to get an email or phone number to call. You can sort by last name by clicking at the top of the columns. You can sort by city as well I discovered. Made looking for Picayune information a lot faster.


    Nicole Akerman

    Jonnie Mae Bender

    Robert Bender

    Eljie Ray (III) and Rachel, Jason Bennett

    Scott and Lila Pearl Black

    Jessica Bonano

    Rhonda and Galen Bond

    Tim, Christa, Blake, Brittany, and Mason  Bosoco

    Angela and Vince Breland

    Curtis Brougton

    Mark Brown, employee of AM CONST HOIST

    Paul Henry Brunelle

    Letti Burge

    April Carter

    Ken and Bettie Cashion

    Frank Catalano

    Melvin Dale and June Clabaugh

    Al and Marylou Crisman

    Victoria Clark

    Kay (Smith) & Gene Combs

    Bjorn (John) and Rosemary Dahl

    Linda and Mike Davidson

    David, Sarah, Jason, Davey, Barbara, Megan and Jus Ervin

    Kathryn Fincher

    Chris, Mary and Dan Flynn

    Charlie & Peggy Fore, Nikki, Tim and the kids

    Reggie and Diana Frierson


    Rob,Tara,Andrew & Jon Gillim

    David Glasenapp

    Augusta Gluth

    Augusta, Hanna, David, David Jr, and Cole Gluth

    Jeremy Granger

    Randall Greenroad

    Charles Hall

    Bob and Evelyn Hall

    Ethel Ham

    Beverly and Daniel Harvard

    Brenda Hendrix

    Dustin and Jason Horsman

    Scott, Lauren, and Riley Howell

    Charlie Hunger

    Taylor Jacobs

    Thomas Johnson

    Jeff and Kim Jones

    Julie Hunger

    Jerry & Diane Kihlken

    Sherdeane Kinney

    Ethel and Daniel Knight

    Jeremy Knowles

    Carmen, Victor Leon

    Pat and Malcom and Daughter Judy Leslie

    Robert/Emily Lewis

    Destiny  and  Melissa Lippert

    Maureen Kem Lorett

    Bryan & Karen Macklin

    Kenn and Becky MacDonald

    Alexis, Paris, Hesper, Gavin, & Anna Miller

    Donna Perkins

    Peggy Rachel

    Joe and Barbara Rachel

    Jeff and Julie Samples

    Kenneth, Gerry, Jeff and Drew Samples

    Jim & Kay Smith

    Tom and Margaret Stockstill

    Valarie Thames

    Kenneth Thomas

    Richard Waldron, Wife and two children

    Chris Wilson  - His Contact Person Wrote:  "I talked to him and he's o.k.. May peace find you all. He said Picayune isn't too bad, just a lot of downed trees. However, they say no power there for some time. Volunteer people. It's the least you can do." Dated 9/1/05

    Tony Wilson

    Philip (P J) WINK

    Debbie and Kaelyn Wolfe, off to Dallas

    Jeff Wolfe reporting to St. Louis for Disaster Relief

    Joe & Dolores Virgo



    There were many listed as alive but it was posted by people looking for folks they were not sure if they were alive or not. It's best to go check and add your relatives if they are not yet listed. But put down "unknown" if you really don't know of their condition.

    Nola.Com Forum

    7366. fam found in Hidden Lake Picayune..ok

    by Beckie9579, 9/1/05 20:36 ET
    Aaron Jones and Charlene Wolfe(Debbie) from Wilmington NC contacted in Picayune Hidden Lake...everyone is ok no utilities but fine

    6285. picayune

    by auntamyintx, 9/1/05 16:06 ET
    my nephew called this morning for only a second to say they were ok and had no elec but they did have water. I will update as soon as I hear again.

    5664. DYESS family FOUND

    by AudreyfrmFL, 9/1/05 13:42 ET
    Found family in Picayune-no elctricity, water or gas. Dont expect any electricity for at least 6 weeks. Thank god they are alive.

    5655. Arnauld found

    by AudreyfrmFL, 9/1/05 13:40 ET
    thank god, Arnauld has been found in Picayune. Its totally devastated, but help is on the way. National Guard is bringing food & water today.

    4061.1. clean water in picayune

    by auntamyintx, 9/1/05 9:21 ET
    Re: Found Holt & Adams in Picayune by auntamyintx, 9/1/05

    my nephew said they have good water today in picayune

    4061. Found Holt & Adams in Picayune

    by auntamyintx, 9/1/05 8:25 ET
    God is good!



    picayunepearl-river-county-katrina.html  Blog for the area. Having a hard time getting the page to come up.

    From the Mississippi/Picayune section.
    Ryan Rester
    Posted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 7:32 pm    Post subject:

    We just left Picayune to head for North MS this
    morning. I don't know about anyone in particular
    however the damage was mostly trees and such. I wish I
    could say you will hear from your family soon, however
    we didn't even get cellphone signal untill
    Hattiesburg. I'll check back here in case in I hear
    from anybody else later and I'm keeping MANY others
    informed that had fled the area as best as I possibly

    Rev. Rester


    From the SunHerald Forum

    From:  phale   9:04 am 
    To:  Bitty   (35 of 66) 
      16.35 in reply to 16.19 
    I have talked with a couple of people in the Picayune
    area. I have been told that trees are down and there
    is some structural damage. I haven't heard of any
    flooding. The person I talked to lives on the Pearl
    River and they do not have any structural damage to
    their home. Fifth street and Goodyear Blvd had a lot
    of trees in the street. The houses around the
    intersection of Dale and Fith and then Dale and
    Goodyear are intact without major damage. My son was
    able to get from Denham Springs into the Picayune area
    to check on people. I hope this helps. I'll forward
    any info I get to you.

    From:  dawna921   2:40 pm 
    To:  landarr unread  (41 of 67) 
      16.41 in reply to 16.1 
    I just wanted to share this with everyone since
    someone was kind enough to send it to me. Although
    despite the content it does bring hope that our loved
    ones are ok. Please feel free to e-mail me with
    further information as I will be updating this group
    as often as I get knews.
    God Bless
    I saw your post regarding your parent. I have been
    told by numerous sources in the area that First Baptist Church of Picayune (the shelter you alluded to).. is intact with only very minor damage.. all there are
    Relief supplies have arrived to the shelter so
    plenty of food, water and such. Also, though the hospital next door was heavily damaged, doctors (including my daddy) have set up at the National Guard Armory as well as set up emergency services in other parts of the city. So, even if they get sick they will be okay.. Don't worry about them.. First Baptist
    is enormous and very well constructed and the people
    there are some of the nicest in the world.
    Hope this eases your mind some. I live in
    Starkville, MS and am anxiously awaiting the opportunity to get back to Picayune to check on my own family. Take care and know that they should be just fine. Phones are completely unreachable though so just hold tight...
    > All my best,
    > Stacie Berry Pierce
    Convoy of Hope arrives to Picayune
    Water and Ice distributed
     From:  mnorth   4:55 pm 
    To:  ALL   (64 of 68) 
      16.64 in reply to 16.10 
    I left Carriere the day after the storm. I lived on
    sugar creek rd. off of west union. one mile off the
    interstate and about 5 miles or so from hwy 11. when i
    left there was no power or water. we were high enough
    up that we did not get any flood waters. from what i
    saw of picayune and the littel bit of our area, alot
    of trees were down. roads were covered with power
    lines, tree branches, and pine trees. picayune was out
    of power but had water. wat-mart was going to try to
    be open soon. they were waiting for generators last i
    herd. The damage that is seen on tv. is so much worse
    on the coast than what i saw in picayune and carriere.
    i wish i could give you more news than that. my dad
    can in last night and he said that the roads all still
    look the same. 601-798-5528 is the picayune police,
    and 601-795-2241 is the poplarville police (for the
    county)if this helps at all.

    Over all observations:

    Seems like the bulk of the information is that trees
    are down, power lines are down. No one is being allowed
    into Picayune because the road has to be left open for
    convoys going to the gulf. Minimal flooding, which by
    now has subsided. No phone, no electricity.

    Some structural damage to the hospital and other
    larger brick buildings, roofs of homes torn off. But a
    lot of folks are saying that there's less structural
    damage and more trees downed.


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