Owner of restaurant destroyed by fire says flood elevations threaten rebuild

Owner of restaurant destroyed by fire says flood elevations threaten rebuild

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Rules on flood elevations may keep a historic Pass Christian restaurant from being able to rise up from the ashes. Cassandra Timmons said she's been put out of business twice. Once from water. Once from fire. And she said the fire is definitely worse.

After Hurricane Katrina dumped 12 feet of water into the Old Cuevas Bistro, volunteers helped her make repairs and get back on her feet. Then in late July, the restaurant burned to the ground. The owner said she'd like to rebuild at the same Menge Avenue location, but she's not sure yet if that's what she should do.

Friends of Timmons are helping her clear away the charred equipment and burned wood, but memories of watching Old Cuevas Bistro engulfed in flames will never go away.

"My whole life just pretty much burning before my eyes and watching it burn all night," said Timmons.

Timmons said she knows the historic building not only meant a lot to her, but also to the community. That's why she's trying to salvage what she can.

"Kept all the historic things that we could. The bricks. The old beams," said Timmons. "All the original doors and everything that we could to keep it original for when we rebuilt."

Exactly where Old Cuevas Bistro will be built is still in limbo after FEMA told her the restaurant would have to be rebuilt higher up.

"We were just told that if over 40 percent of the building was burned we couldn't be grandfathered in for the flood elevation,  I guess or the level that we have to rebuild which is one of my biggest concerns right now," Timmons said. "The level to which we have to rebuild which is almost 12 feet. I just can't see that same look of the old store being that high up in the air and it just not looking like the old place that it was."

Timmons said either at the original location or in another spot, she's determined to serve customers once again.

"I definitely want to come back. I love my customers. I love the town. I love everything about the coast and I want to stay here and bring back the great restaurant that we had," said Timmons.

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