New Buildings Spark Debate

September 18, 2005
Reported by Vince Atkinson

In the wake of Hurricane Rita, this past year has been full of stories of recoveries and comebacks, but not all of those stories have a happy ending. In fact, for some people in Cameron Parish, the recovery process is just beginning. One of the biggest challenges for people in lower Cameron Parish has been overcoming and meeting the new building codes.

Monday night, the Cameron Parish Police Jury held a public meeting and took questions from a crowd that was anything but happy. Tempers flared, voices were raised, and some tough questions were asked Monday night at the Cameron Courthouse. The frustration comes as residents that are struggling to come back to the parish find that meeting the new stringent building codes is proving to be an even bigger challenge than first expected. FEMA representatives and workers with the national flood insurance plan took questions from the public, but the answers were not received well by frustrated residents. One Cameron Parish land owner said, "This is suppose to be the land of the free, but it has turned into the land of permits, permits, permits. We need to get rid of the restrictions, and let us do what we want to on our land. Stop telling us what we can and can't do on our own land. Give us our freedom back. Give Cameron Parish back to the people of Cameron Parish."

Cameron Parish does have the right to opt out of participating in the national flood insurance program and not enforcing the new building codes. If the parish does bow out of the program, it would lose millions in federal funding and would not be eligible for assistance if another disaster takes place.