Hurricane Katrina downsized his domain to nothing. Today, his new castle is about one-seventh the size of his old one, measuring 450 square feet. But surveying the familiar view from the dollhouse porch of his "Mississippi cottage," Mr. Voorhies is one of many storm survivors who have reassessed their coastal existence.
"Small works for me right now," Voorhies says of his cottage, one of nearly 2,400 the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) has given to state residents to replace the FEMA trailer. "There's less to lose."
Not everyone is an enthusiast of the Mississippi cottage – a wheeled version of the now famous Katrina Cottage – despite its compact cuteness. Most communities along the now-rebuilding Gulf Coast have demanded that MEMA haul them out by next March, citing concerns about their storm-worthiness, low assessed values, and aesthetics. That is leading some cottage-dwellers to vow to fight for their abodes, promising a showdown ahead.
New Orleans is grappling with post-hurricane demolitions, including teardowns of houses the owners have been planning to renovate. See the Squandered Heritage blog for details, and note that a team from New Orleans will be at the NetSquared conference coming in May 27-28 2008. Here's some small measure of the problem they are up against:
My house was a 1945 Gentilly bungalow with double parlor, original floors, the Gentilly tile, and deco molding. It was in no danger of falling down. My contractor drove by, called, and asked why there were bulldozers on the property the morning they tore it down. Before he could reach us, the house was gone.
I cannot return to the city now. I feel such pure fury when I think of my house being torn down. City bulldozers trespassed on my property and tore down my lovely Gentilly bungalow. New Orleans has nothing to do with America anymore. New Orleans is dead to me, and I will not lift a finger to help or give back to it again.