Slow Road To Recovery For Belle Fontaine Residents

JACKSON COUNTY (WLOX) -- The road to recovery is slow along Belle Fontaine beach, where signs of rebirth meet marks of devastation, crumbling like Katrina hit yesterday. But the view from atop Jessie and Jean Carroll's home is a little bit brighter.

"For us there was no question, we were absolutely going to rebuild," Mrs. Carroll said.

But the Carrolls are one of only 23 families who have started rebuilding here. Nearly 80 other beach-front properties are still vacant or up for sale - the majority of them were used as vacation homes.

"How often do you look out and think, 'I remember when there was a home there?'" WLOX reporter Keli Rabon asked the Carrolls.

"Everyday, everyday. Fortunately we're staying in contact with our neighbors," Jessie Carroll said.

Skyrocketing building costs and rising insurance rates could be what's holding people back from rebuilding. But for the Carroll family, the one-of-a-kind ocean view is something they call priceless.

"It's just a great community. We all shared the proximity to the water, enjoying the beach, the birds, things like that. So we have one huge thing in common, that's the area," Mr. Carroll said.

The Carrolls foresee a long journey ahead until their beach-front area is back, and they're counting down the days until seabirds and sticks have a little more company on Fountainbleau Beach.

"Even if our neighbors build back, they won't block our view, they'll just enhance it. That's how we look at it, they're part of the view," Mr. Carroll said.

Jackson County Board of Supervisors President John McKay says the lack of water and sewer services in the area have also inhibited growth along Belle Fontaine, but he believes the area will be completely rebuilt within four to five years.