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Rising from Ruin is an on-going MSNBC.com special report chronicling two coastal Mississippi towns, Bay St. Louis and Waveland, as they rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

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Things seem to be happening. We were pleasantly surprised last week to find that our lot has been cleared by the Corps (except for a stray car, which they say they’re not contracted to deal with — we’re not sure what to do with it, but are considering using it as a lawn sculpture).

We’ve also received our last insurance settlement for lost contents. Interestingly, our bank says they will have to hold the check for 10 days. It’s not that we were actually going to do anything with it right away; but it does seem that a check, though sizeable, drawn on a nationally respected bank would not be in danger of bouncing. Besides which, we are in the electronic age. Steve and I think it’s so the bank can use our money to earn interest for a while before they turn it over to us. I heard about this sort of thing on NPR (also last week), when the former labor secretary who opened a new account was unable to get hold of his own money in a timely manner. Ah, well, such is life.

Armed with insurance settlements (ready and not-so-ready) and the knowledge of a cleared lot, we all but ran to the permit office ... to discover the new property setbacks!

Deflation set in. It seems our former house was saucily sitting beyond the limits, and the new house would need to conform. Wow, we said. Is there a house plan small enough for us? As it turns out, there is. In fact, there ARE plans with a small enough footprint for our little piece of earth, and yet with decent square footage. A trip to Barnes and Noble to look at plan books reassured me.

Happily, Waveland is all about using the Mississippi Renewal Forum’s plans. We went to a community meeting last week to figure out how to implement some of the proposals. It was very encouraging. However, as Steve pointed out, 25-foot setbacks front and back are more descriptive of suburbs than of a small-town, mixed-use community. This may be something that can be hashed out before the zoning board. And I’m not above asking for small variances.

The next step is to get an elevation certificate for our lot, and also find a map of the lot. We are talking with modular home builders, and hope to see some plans this week or next. One of the builders makes historic-looking homes in New Orleans that are made to withstand 140 mph winds (which wouldn’t really help with the storm surge, but still it’s nice). We’re leaning toward a Creole cottage with big porches.

I sure thought we were ready to move forward, but it looks like it will take a little while longer. There are so many things I know nothing about, and there’s so much to learn. I’m trying to look at it as an adventure.

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11 COMMENTS

Heather and Steve - come by and see your architect. Time for your six month checkup.

Yep Heather, I vote with John, go see your architechs, but make them make you sangria before you buy anything!!!
I miss you guys! Great talking to you the other night!
See you soon!
xo
DeNeice

Good luck, and congrats on being able to move ahead. Please keep us all posted on your progress as you slog thru the bureacracy, and begin rebuilding. Your new home sounds lovely!

Heather, it is an adventure....just a bad one....bless ya'll and good luck!!!

man guess i had to vent...but just saw where...the palistians have recieved over 1.7billion of U.S. aid in the past few years.....don't that make ya sick???...we are supporting MAD MEN...and not our own??....let them croak or fend for themselves...i do know i don't want my taxes going there...when our people need it....much rather my taxes...went to new homes for ya'll

Heather, my lot is cleared now and we have loaded in some dirt. It looks alot better, considering. Its amazing now, the small things that excite us. Like a cleared lot and dirt. I live in Waveland in what we now call "Slabville" and I totally understand all of the frustrations, be it insurance, permits, set backs, etc.. It just seems to go on and on. We also are considering modular housing but have had no luck finding builders in Mississippi. Any help you could give me in locating one would be wonderful. Keep your chin up and know that which does not kill us can only make us stronger. (We all ought to be Hercules by the time this is over, haha)

Marybeth, there is a modular builder in Hancock County -- the "sample" house is on Ballentine and it's by Southern Prebuilt. They're also on the web (southernprebuilt.com). The houses are cute and look historic, but the shotgun style doesn't fit our lot. I'm also in touch with a company out of Pascagoula, and possibly one out of New Orleans. I'll leave the info at City Hall for you if you want to check into it. Where'd you get the dirt?! I need some of that.

Hello Heather,

Thanks for the info. I've seen the house on Ballentine and it is adorable. Did you know that they are having a modular home expo in D'Iberville this Saturday? I didn't either, I heard it on the radio this morning. I might just go and check it out. I will stop by City Hall to get the information. Thanks again for that. C & G brought in our dirt. That is Craig Sellier and Garland James. They did a great job. Brought the dirt in and spread it as well. It looks much better, although we ordered 10 loads and still need 5 more to finish. I had no idea how much dirt we had lost. All of this is truly incredible. Hope you are hanging in there. I can find out the number for C & G if you would like. Just let me know.

My family's prayers are with you and our hands will be with you the first week in May when we arrive to help build(rebuild) in your area. We are with the Foursquare Gospel churches that have a base camp in Waveland. I'm glad that I stumbled upon this site to get a first hand look at what you are dealing with. Hurricane Charley seems to be a baby in comparision to what you are dealing with.

hope ya'll are well...and CONSTRUCTION has already started!!!

I read how you have found a way to mitigate future potential wind damage, but had not solved the riddle of potential flood surge. We Have! See any search engine to find info on flood vents. In particular smartvent. It leads the future revolution on flood mitigation.

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