Hard Fought Homecoming

February 5, 2006
Reported by Vince Atkinson

Hurricane Rita is the story that just will not go away.   More than a year after the devastating storm, thousands of people are still not back home.   Now, some are asking if they will ever return, especially those people who live in Cameron Parish.   New flood plain restrictions and building codes have made the recovery process an expensive one.

Monday night the Cameron Parish Police Jury asked state and FEMA officials if there is any leeway in the new and more stringent rules.   Cameron Parish residents asked questions, but they did not get the answers they were looking for.

Cameron Parish is slowly coming back after Hurricane Rita, but not as quickly as many had hoped.   Building permits are hard to obtain in the wake of Hurricane Rita's destruction.   Cameron Parish resident Jay Rutherford said, "We live here.   We choose to live here. We choose the danger. We choose the hazard because this is our home."  With new federal flood elevation requirements and building code restrictions, rebuilding in Cameron cost more than ever before.

David Hiegel with FEMA said, "The flood insurance and the program and laws were designed so that the structures would survive the next flood."  The new rules come with few, if any significant exceptions.   The idea is to better prepaire the community for the next storm, but does not allow for the hardships the added cost residents are faceing during the rebuilding process.

Cameron Parish residents are not giving up.   They are still asking FEMA for more clarification on these new rules and looking for ways to make the post Rita "home coming" more financially feasible.