Katrina recovery slow in St. Andrews

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Drive around St. Andrews and you'll probably see beautiful, lovely houses right next to empty, overgrown fields.  Although there is a sign of new construction in the storm battered community, it's still pretty dead.

"If you look right in this area, this whole street is still gone on both sides," construction worker Howard Pitfield said.

Dozens of the 221 homes here before the storm are gone. Owners of another 34 or so packed up and move out of this community after Katrina. There 14 homes for sale now.

Marilyn Swanson is one of the faithful few in St. Andrews.  Katrina wiped away her home, but she built back.

"People who moved away are not returning. We have a few newcomers, a few homes have been remolded for resale, and one occasionally," Marilyn Swanson said about her neighborhood.

Flood waters washed away much of what Robert Bliss had, but he too decided to stay.

"We like the neighborhood, and we like the neighbors, and we like the community," Bliss said.

The two neighbors said skyrocketing insurance rates and the sinking economy are keeping homes empty and lots vacant.

"It's outrageous. My insurance went from about $1800 a year to over $5,000 a year on this home," Bliss said.

"So many people may be frightened to come back. I feel sad for the people who didn't return, I feel it was a lost," Swanson said.

Still they're hopeful that, eventually, more people will move in and fill St. Andrews with life again.

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