OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Right after Katrina, a few East Beach homeowners in Ocean Springs rebuilt their homes that were washed away in the storm. Then it stopped. For years now, it's been quiet along that section of waterfront. But that is starting to change.
"We've seen a lot of activity and interest in the East Beach area recently," architect Dennis Cowart said. "It started with a few people kind of stepping out and starting building things on the beach and a lot of activity has kind of followed up with that."
We caught up with Joe Cloyd, his wife Jessica, and baby Martha as they looked around the home they'll soon be moving into. They said the view of the Mississippi Sound is a major draw, but there are other reasons for the move.
"I think that unlike what's happening nationally, I think you're seeing a stronger coast economy and I think that's why myself and others are rebuilding in this area," Cloyd said.
He also knows there's a risk living on the beach.
"We've taken major steps to mitigate both against wind and water within this house and we're going to continue structural enhancements to the property to make sure that it's here to last," Cloyd explained.
Building back on the beachfront means using smarter and stronger construction methods. Thomas Matthews has been framing homes for more than 30 years and has seen the changes firsthand.
"Your studs are on 16 inch centers, two by six exterior walls. Then you got your stud straps, 32 inches nailed to every other stud with the joist hanger nails. Then we're using 5/8ths plywood on the walls. It's all nailed four inches all away around the edges," Matthews explained.
The renaissance of East Beach may be just beginning, according to Cowart.
"I know there's some activity that people are about to see happening in this area that's really going to be phenomenal," Cowart said. "There's some major development that's going to happen on the beach and just off the beach."
That development will certainly be welcome. Some developers in Ocean Springs say even more homes will be built in other areas near the water in the future. Stronger construction standards and stabilizing insurance rates are cited as two of the main reasons for the trend.