Hope And History Amid Ruin In Long Beach

The neighborhood just west of downtown Long Beach was among the many hit hard by Katrina. But six months later, amid the barren slabs and debris, we found progress and recovery.

It's a story of hope in the future and preservation of the past.

"I'm convinced the area is coming back. I wouldn't be building here if I thought otherwise," said Dyann Lentz.

She loves living in Long Beach.

"She'll be digging up stuff for years," said one of her two sisters, who are helping remove storm debris from a lot on West Avenue.

"All the neighbors are friendly and we all get along. It's just been a wonderful place to live all these years. Don't want to move," said Lentz.

She chooses to look beyond debris. Her house was among the many destroyed by the storm. Still, she envisions flower gardens and attractive homes replacing the ugliness.

"Going to build a small house with a cottage in the back. I don't want to leave the neighborhood. I love the neighborhood and I'm going to stay right here," she explained.

While the sisters prepare for new construction, Alyce Scoggins oversees historic restoration. Her century old house was built by one of the city's founders: Harper McCaughan.

"He built this in 1908. This was the last home that he and Mrs. McCaughan and their daughter Lemmy lived in," she said.

The house withstood Katrina, but nearly met the bulldozer. A specialty contractor from North Carolina saved the day and the home.

"He just showed up after we'd already signed off and decided to have her bulldozed. He shows up and he says, I'm here. And he starts doing an analysis on the house."

You've heard it said, they don't build 'em like they used to. Turns out there's lots of truth there. Cypress siding for example.

"You've got double. On this side and on the other side. She's still standing and you can look around at the other devastation," said contractor Michael Locklear, showing off the wooden siding inside.

"It is a neat old house," said Scoggins.

And the neat old house will soon have new life.

"We've got to save her. She put up a good fight, we've got to save her," Scoggins said.

Along with building a new home, Dyann Lentz is a realtor in Long Beach. She says the market there is strong, with a growing interest in both available land and new construction.