Jourdan River Estates Residents Celebrate Insurance Settlements

Residents in one Hancock County neighborhood celebrated a post Katrina victory Tuesday. Property owners in and around the Jourdan River Estates community threw a party because most of their homeowners claims have been settled.

The wind verses water dispute had been the source of a lot of controversy in the water front community since the storm.

"Today we're here to celebrate the fact that most of the insurance companies in our area 163 homes that are completely gone have made some form of payment toward our homeowners claims," Jourdan River Estates resident Melissa Ortego said.

Five and a half months after Hurricane Katrina decimated most of the homes in and around Jourdan River Estates, residents who turned out for this celebration say they have finally stepped onto the road to recovery.

"The engineers that Allstate hired for my house and five other houses on my street reported exactly what happened. They said the wind blew it down and the water took it away. So Allstate says on that basis they are going to pay full policy limits," Hancock County resident Burl Nelson said.

Zielda and John Gandy received a partial homeowners settlement for their leveled home.

"I feel like the insurance companies are probably hurting right now and they're trying not to pay any more than they have to, and you can kind of understand that. But it's not right for the people who have lost their homes and lives are completely turned upside down," Gandy said.

The party wasn't just to celebrate those who have received homeowners settlements, it was also an opportunity to help those neighbors who are still fighting the battle.

Residents gathered statements from residents who stayed to support their "Wind First Theory." They also collected video tapes as well as got information from the National Weather Service to help their cases.

"All the supporting data that we have from the National Weather Service and NOAA says the wind was blowing in excess of 143 to 145 miles per hour," Ortego said.

Residents of this neighborhood say they will continue to share information until everyone in the area is made whole.