Maurepas rebuilding under new FEMA standards

Val's Marina in Maurepas set to reopen March 26
Val's Marina in Maurepas set to reopen March 26
Val's Marina in Maurepas set to reopen March 26
Val's Marina in Maurepas set to reopen March 26

MAUREPAS, LA (WAFB) - Rebuilding after a hurricane is never easy. But some new standards by the federal government are making it even more difficult, especially for people in low lying areas such as Maurepas.

Just days after Hurricane Isaac showed up and sat over Louisiana, the streets of Maurepas were flooded. Homeowner, Larry O'Neill said in the 20 years he has lived along the Amite River, he has never seen the water rise that high.

"The water came up so fast, and it came up 18 inches higher than it has since I've been here," O'Neill said.

Jacob Kramer, a construction worker, said he watched the events unfold.

"It was bad. We got like 14 inches of rain came in," Kramer said.

Homeowners had to make a difficult choice, stay put or get out.

"There's nothing you can do about it. It's Mother Nature. You can't control it," O'Neill said.

Eventually he and his relatives had to move to higher ground.

"A motor home is nice to live in but after a several months it sort of gets small," O'Neill said.

The O'Neill's finally got the thumbs up from the federal government and their insurance company to rebuild their home. But that also meant elevating it to reflect new standards set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Last March FEMA said homeowners in Maurepas must build at least seven feet above sea level to qualify for insurance and government grants. The requirement was previously 6.2 feet. To be safe, O'Neill built six feet higher than the new standard.

"I bought here for a purpose, and I'm staying here for a purpose," O'Neill explained.

You'll hear that same tune from his neighbors and business owners.

Val's Marina flooded more than once after Issac, and again during January's heavy downpours. The owners were down on their luck for months but they kept rebuilding.

Kramer Construction is putting the finishing touches on the popular restaurant. He said homeowners and businesses have built bigger and better, and customers are in for a treat.

"It's going to be a whole lot different because it's not the same. It's been remodeled into a whole new place," Kramer said.

For those who live in Maurepas, it's a symbol of hope and promise.

Val's Marina is scheduled to reopen at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 26.

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