Hurricane Katrina

HICKORY HILL IN GAUTIER: Lots of building, buying, selling

GAUTIER - High and dry, the Hickory Hill area of north Gautier is mostly recovered from Katrina and very popular with home shoppers.

The aftermath here is in the increased traffic along the only access road and an infusion of 80 FEMA trailers into a neighborhood that is walking distance from the Mississippi National Golf Course.

Steady construction was taking place long before the storm, but Councilman Matt Feathers said he believes it has escalated as vacant lots are snapped up.

It's the richest part of town, annexed in 2003, Feathers explained. Residential property taxes from that area alone make up more than a third of residential taxes collected citywide.

But a fear of transients has become evident, city officials said. There are many new faces, including people from other parts of the Coast, living with family in Hickory Hill.

A flier sent to homes claimed crime had gone up since the storm. But one resident in a $130,000 home two blocks from the new trailers said she hasn't noticed.

City Manager Christy Wheeler said there are no indicators to show the crime problem is any worse than any other part of the city.

Terry Cerami and her family moved to the neighborhood days before the FEMA trailers arrived on her street. She said it was an unexpected nightmare. She has witnessed petty crime regularly and at Christmas, racial tensions came to a head, she said, but there has been very little major crime.

She's afraid it's coming.

Still, houses are selling fast. One resident on Martin Bluff Road, a stone's throw from the entrance to the golf course, said her home sold in four months without being listed. A steady stream of buyers came; almost all had lost homes to Katrina.

The house next door sold in less than a month. It was listed.

It has all added up to more traffic than ever on narrow, two-lane, unstriped Martin Bluff Road, where the city clocked 10,100 cars a day recently.

The series

The Sun Herald this month continues its 30 Communities in 30 Days series, which looks at how area neighborhoods are recovering from Hurricane Katrina. We will update these stories every six months.

J.T. Contractors workers, from left, Fernando Gutierez, Sammy Mendez and Tommy Martin lay roll-roofing material on a new home on Martin Bluff Road.

D. G.'s Foundations workers Therman Carter, left, and Carter Zachary prepare to pour the foundation for a new house in Hickory Hill recently.

What Hurricane Katrina did

The Mississippi National Golf Course at Hickory Hill and the Hickory Hill Villas took a beating, at least $1 million worth. Dozens of homes to the west of the course flooded and homes to the east had scattered roof and tree damage.