JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Head to the Lighthouse Bistro any night of the week, and you're sure to find some St. Andrews homeowners enjoying dinner, drinks and conversation. It's not just laughter most of the customers share, it's the shared experience of trying to rebuild what Katrina took away.
"I think the biggest loss to us was that we lost approximately two dozen homes on the backside, but they were all friends and neighbors of ours," said Brian Gamboni who's lived in St. Andrews for 10 years.
Like so many other neighborhoods, the loss was great. Gamboni and two of his friends said they're proud of how St. Andrews is recovering.
"Everybody jumped in, pitched in, helped everybody else," said George Nixon, who also sat at the table. "I never once heard any grumbling."
Larry Smith lives on the South side of the neighborhood. He said his home is still surrounded by slabs, but several beachfront homes are being rebuilt.
"I think the redevelopment is going pretty good," Smith said. "I think we're probably ahead of many parts of the coast. People are still building back."
"The areas not along the waterfront that have really seemed to have come back nicely," Gamboni said. "All of my neighbors have resettled. We have a few new neighbors, but it's just the houses along the beach that are slow to come back."
The homes aren't all back and may never be. But these men said they believe the community's foundation is stronger than ever.
"It is definitely stronger than ever," Nixon said.
"Oh, I think so. Everybody has really come together, more so than they ever were," Smith agreed.