On Mississippi’s shore, what Katrina erased not yet replaced

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A look at some Mississippi figures from Hurricane Katrina.

LONG BEACH, Miss. (AP) — Between Mississippi’s seashore and the railroad tracks a little ways inland, where Hurricane Katrina all but erased a neighborhood 10 years ago, Efrem Garza and a handful of other homeowners are still resettling a frontier. Running from the beach highway to railroad tracks paralleling the shoreline — a zone of maximum destruction along the Mississippi coast — it was on the front lines of the storm’s fury. Barbour presided over a shift to Republican control of both houses of the Legislature, completed in the 2011 elections when the GOP took over the state House. The former chairman of the Republican National Committee has resumed work as a lobbyist, written a memoir about Katrina called “America’s Great Storm” and promoted his Katrina legacy in recent months. “Our recovery from Katrina is also the story of strong, resilient, self-reliant people who were knocked flat but then got back on their feet, hitched up their britches, and went to work helping themselves and helping their neighbors,” Barbour wrote. Although the overall population of Mississippi’s three coastal counties — Hancock, Harrison and Jackson — is now larger than before the storm, in many neighborhoods closest to the water the overgrown lots and empty slabs speak to a much slower recovery.

Beachside areas are awash in lots for sale, but potential newcomers face expensive challenges, including mandates to elevate homes and steep costs of insurance against water and winds. – BOBBY MAHONEY: The owner of the Mississippi coast’s most famous restaurant presided over the recovery of Mary Mahoney’s French House, part of which is in a building that dates to 1737. The restaurant reopened in November 2005 after Mahoney and family members repaired more than $300,000 in damage – a Mississippi example of restaurants as rebuilding pioneers, also seen in New Orleans. Dignitaries including Biloxi’s mayor toasted the restaurant’s 50th anniversary with champagne during a lunch in its landmark courtyard in 2014, days after Mahoney’s uncle and restaurant co-founder Andrew Cvitanovich died.

Noucher’s death certificate says only, “Hurricane Katrina Related Fatality.” Even those who lost no loved ones paid a heavy toll in the months after Katrina, forced to seek shelter with relatives or friends or in faraway motels and apartments. – MIKE PRENDERGAST: Waveland’s assistant police chief was among 26 officers who withstood Katrina’s storm surge by clinging to a bush and planters, then climbing onto the roof of Waveland’s police station. Others who returned still grieve. “My brothers are dead and they left us a bunch of stuff, and I’d lost it too,” said Robert Pickett, briefly sobbing as he recounted the aftermath. He said it was even harder on his wife, Carolyn. “It was probably the biggest trauma in our lives and it was difficult to deal with,” Pickett said. “I was an orphan and I had been passed around and I was pretty hardened to adversity.

State Auditor Stacey Pickering is demanding that former Waveland officers return guns donated after the storm, saying they’re city property, though officers had always been required to use their own weapons. Tanguis said her mother returned to Long Beach and lived in a FEMA trailer, but died in December 2006 at age 82 before volunteers finished renovating her house.

Saying they found evidence that State Farm was improperly blaming claims on flood waters, not covered by private wind insurance, they filed a whistleblower lawsuit. He and other neighbors drew from $1.9 billion in federal grants that Mississippi gave to homeowners who lacked flood insurance or needed additional aid. The returning homeowners have been joined by a trickle of newcomers like homebuilder Chris Patrick, who just completed a house overlooking the beach and hopes to build more.

An early critic of FEMA’s response, the Democratic congressman later took on private insurance companies that he said had unfairly shortchanged coastal residents. Like many other South Seashore residents, Patrick said he loves living near the water, and he’s willing to risk another storm. “I don’t think I could do it any cheaper,” he said of the house, which he’s trying to sell for $350,000. “It’s expensive just to get the Sheetrock up this high.” Some, including Jackson-area auto dealer Mike Cox, would like to build new houses but say the costs of elevation and insurance are holding them back. Considered the most conservative Democrat in Congress, Taylor lost his seat to Republican Steven Palazzo in 2010, who argued even a conservative Democrat was helping liberals. The city is now requiring owners to remove remaining empty slabs from destroyed structures. “If lots were like this, cleared, with the grass growing, we’d have a better chance of selling it, Ponthieux said. “It’s been 10 years.

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