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5 Years Later, Mississippi Still Feels Katrina

Sunday marks the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall on the Gulf Coast, on its way to becoming the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, leaving more than 1,800 people dead and causing more than $80 billion in damages.

While New Orleans was hit horribly hard, particularly by floodwaters, many people forget that initially it was Mississippi that was hardest hit by the storm and its 125-mph winds.

Katrina roared right through the state. The storm surge leveled nearly everything, turning Gulfport into a ghost town. Almost every house near the water was damaged or destroyed.

And in five years, very few people have decided to come back.

Complete Coverage: Katrina Five Years Later

In 2005 "Early Show" anchor Harry Smith" met a Gulfport resident, Dr. Jason Smith, whose beautiful 100-year-old home was destroyed.

"All that rubble up there? That's my home," he said.

Today, Smith asked the doctor if it has ever occurred to him to go back to his old neighborhood and rebuild.

"On the beach, no," he said. "First of all, the neighborhood's gone. Secondly, the insurance is prohibitive."

Thousands of Mississippians are still coping with desperate living conditions, reports CBS News correspondent Manuel Gallegus.

Billie Gilmore's home was under 30 feet of water by Katrina. Over the past five years life has dealt Gilmore a tough hand.

She moved into a FEMA trailer, and later a government cottage. Then Hurricane Gustav flooded the cottage and Gilmore was forced to live in her storage shed.

"I don't invite people to my house 'cause I'm ashamed of the way I've had to live," Gilmore said.

Now at 76, she's not sure what's next.

"I'm just too old to keep starting over," she said.

Katrina damaged or destroyed more than 94,000 homes in coastal Mississippi. More than 5,000 storm victims still have no permanent place to live.

Kathleen Johnson, of Waveland Citizens Fund, came here to help Mississippi's elderly and poor after Katrina, and never left.

"There seems to be a tendency to want to celebrate this anniversary," she told Gallegus. "Truth of the matter is, there's not a lot to celebrate."

In large areas of coastal Mississippi, only one in eight homes has been rebuilt. The landscape is a mix of weeds, storm remnants and new construction.

With sky high insurance costs, stricter building codes, and a slow economy, many couldn't afford to stay.

There is some progress.

Juanita Steele lost her family home in Katrina. She saved her insurance money - and for about $60,000 Camp Victor Ministries is building her a new one.

"This is where I need to be," Steele said. "I have been here for 57 years and it rips my heart out every time I have to leave."

Juanita will be moving into her new home by the end of the year.