Residents Beginning To Rebuild Along The Beach In Ocean Springs

"That's my tree house," says Ocean Springs resident Allison O'Neal.

Actually, this is Allison's second tree house.

"Everybody really got wiped out,"says O'Neal. "One house was left but it was unlivable."

She and husband Paul beat everybody back to Front Beach in Ocean Springs.

"We were first; he was second, and Dempsey was third," says Paul. "We were the first ones back, and we were here alone for a long time."

Getting back home only 6 months after Hurricane Katrina wasn't easy.

"We moved in with 2 borrowed rocking chairs and a bed, and you know, little by little, you put things together. Gradually you're back," says Allison.

And they know first hand what's been keeping their neighbors.

"They can't afford to build a house because building is so expensive," says Allison. "They can't afford the taxes. They can't afford the insurance, you know, and they're just out of luck. And they can't sell."

"You see each place has a view of the water out every room, says Allison walking through her home.

But lately, Allison has been encouraged by what she sees happening out those windows.

"Oh, it's wonderful! (We're) just really thrilled to have everybody back."

These are among the 21 new construction and rebuild projects along Front and East Beach permitted by the Ocean Springs Building Department since September or 2005. The O'Neals are happy for the company.

"People walk our beach and everybody knows everybody walking by," says Allison. "Of course you don't know everybodys names. You see people for years walking by, but you wave to them.  You know one another that way. Once you live on the water there's nothing like it."