Another Year Before Long Beach Rebuilding To Start

Gus and Donna Harris will start dishing up crawfish, poboys and gumbo next week in their temporary restaurant in Long Beach. Hurricane Katrina blew away their beach side Cajun Crawfish Hut, forcing them to move to East Railroad Street. With no utilities on or near the beach, the restaurant will be here at least a year.

"We expected it to be a while. I mean, I knew what it took after Camille. This is a temporary location, but I might well keep it and make a breakfast place out of it when I get back open on the beach," says Gus Harris.

Pawnshop owner Kevin Riley is waiting for that day too. He and his wife had adjoining shops on Jeff Davis Avenue. Now they sit gutted.

"It's very discouraging. My wife and I both would love to rebuild here. We're lifelong residents of Long Beach and we want to be back in town, and we will. We'll muddle through and Long Beach will come back bigger and better."

But that won't be quick or easy. City officials say the entire water and sewer system collapsed in the hurricane and the city will have to start over. That means bargaining with FEMA.

"They can't put it back the way it was. They've got to put it up to the new standards and new codes. So we're talking several million dollars and it's going to be coming from FEMA," says Fire Chief George Bass.

Gus Harris says that's okay with him, as long as he can look forward to boiling up his crawfish again one day on the beach.

"Oh, I absolutely will, no question about that. We've already started doing drawings on it."