McDonald also suggests forming a support group for nonprofits to help one another apply for grants and provide a safe place to vent. "There's some wear and tear on the caregivers. You kind of need a safe place to bang your head against the wall."
The recovery trajectory isn't always straight, points out Tish Haas Williams, executive director of the local Chamber of Commerce. Just as Seaside Park and Seaside Heights, N.J. had to contend with the September boardwalk fire, the Gulf Coast comeback was stalled by the 2010 BP oil spill.
"We did have setbacks along the way," says Williams. "It's like a roller coaster ride. It really is. You can't predict how all the pieces of the puzzle are going to come together and when they're going to fall in place, but they do."
In fact, in 2010 Coastal Living Magazine named Bay St. Louis one of the "Best Little Beach Towns," while Budget Travel this year declared it one of the "Coolest Small Towns in America." It is now the fastest-growing city on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Eddie Favre, who has since retired as mayor, promises Superstorm Sandy survivors that the struggle is worth it. "It will happen. They've just got to believe. Almost like Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. Click your heels. ‘I do believe. I do believe,'" says Favre. "It will get better. It's just going to take some time and a hell of a lot of patience. Just hang in there."