Hancock County's Heron Bay Slow To Recover

In southwest Hancock County's Heron Bay community, FEMA trailers, slabs and pilings remain the norm. Signs of rebuilding are rare.

"No progress, nothing. It's the same as it was 15 months ago. There's just nothing happening," resident Anita Eichhorn said.

The Eichhorn Family, like most others who live in Heron Bay, lost everything during the storm. Without a state grant, rebuilding is out of the question. They applied six months ago and so far have heard nothing.

"We're actually homeless and I believe were going to be homeless for a long time. Unless we get some help to be able to come back, this is the way we'll continue to live. And when they take the FEMA trailer, I guess we'll be in a tent."

Eichhorn says most of her neighbors have the same fear. Out of about 105 families in the community, only six have started rebuilding their homes. And of those six homes, only two are ready to be lived in.

Greg and Sybil Wood are among the fortunate ones. The Woods say they've been able to get as far as they have on their new home because their insurance company, Farm Bureau, came through for them.

"We were well pleased with our settlement and it didn't take forever," Wood said.

Residents say the most visible sign of recovery came when debris crews removed storm damaged homes. But they say the bayous and canals are a different story.

"The bayous are still pretty clogged up. You can't go fishing or do the things you came out here for," resident Norma Finnan said.

Many say Heron Bay will never be the same.

"We'd have over 300 people just about every other weekend at the Marina. Everybody brought pot luck, everybody knew everybody. We had a homeowners' association going and it was a great place to live. Now it's dead. It's all gone," Eichhorn said.

So far phone service is only available to half of the community, and cable TV service has yet to be restored.

by Al Showers