Long Beach Couple Say Building Higher Pays Off

LONG BEACH (WLOX) -- "We enjoy the view. Before people started building below us, we had a beautiful view of the Gulf, unobstructed," said Thomas Petermann. "It feels like we've got a nice Gulf Breeze through here all the time. We really enjoy that, so we enjoy sitting on the porch."

Thomas and Marilyn Petermann have a new view since Hurricane Katrina.. The storm wiped out their ground level home. But, they were the first people on their street to build back nine months after the storm. Not sure what the FEMA flood elevation requirements for their area would be at that time, they decided to play it safe.

"We didn't have to really build but about three feet above where our old slab was, but we went ahead and built an 8 foot clearance underneath," Petermann said.

Thomas Petermann, a retired Civil Engineer, decided to build put their new modular home on a steel platform about 12 feet above their slab. The Petermann's grant from the Mississippi Development Authority is helping pay off the house. But they say building higher has proven to be a good investment.

"Just recently, we got a call that the elevation grant would also be available, so we were able to get that one too, which helped out a lot. Of course, that doesn't replace what we lost, but it makes it a lot more comfortable to live," Petermann said.

"We feel like we're about where we were before the storm, no more debts than what we had before the storm," Petermann said.

Almost three years since Katrina, many of the Petermann's neighbors on South Seashore Avenue are also building back higher and stronger. As for the couple, they say they're happy they have a great view, grants to help them recoup their money and of course, each other. The Petermanns say they moved to Long Beach to live out their Golden Years. They're happy they've been able to do that.