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There’s no place like home: The US Gulf Coast 3 years on

Remembered today as one of the costliest and deadliest extreme storms to hit America, it is important never to forget the impact that the hurricane had on communities and lives in states as far apart as Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana.   The storm caused damage costing an estimated $81.2 billion, it was responsible for the loss of over 1,800 lives, and to this day thousands of displaced citizens are still living in temporary trailer accommodation because they lost their homes and all of their possessions as a result of the hurricane.

The immediate aftermath of the storm saw incredible, dramatic and instantaneous disaster relief efforts as local people with homes still standing took in their neighbours, NGOs from the US and far further afield arrived to help with the relief effort and America's own Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided immediate practical assistance.  In less than a week Congress had authorised $62.3 billion in aid for victims, and Presidents Bush, Bush Senior and Clinton joined forces to enlist financial support from private American citizens as they rallied for economic donations.

Ongoing, the efforts to raise money, assist and aid the Hurricane Katrina affected communities has been relentless and impressive.  Assisting individuals and businesses affected by the storm and encouraging those who are willing to continue participating in the rebuilding and restoration of the region became a priority for the government as time went on. This led to the government enacting the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act (or GO Zone Act) in December 2005.  This Act gave everything from tax credits to tax-exempt financing and 50% depreciation for new developments within the so called GO Zone, and it continues to provide tax incentives and financial opportunities to those who commit to investing in and assisting with the ongoing restoration of affected communities in the likes of Mississippi and Louisiana.

Leslie Younger, Director of Global Community Development, is someone whose company has been actively helping with regeneration initiatives in the region, commenting on the transformation that the GO Zone Act has helped to inspire, Leslie comments: "the change on the coast has been remarkable.  Residents are extremely excited to get back home after being displaced for so long.  Most of our tenants have been living in 400sq ft FEMA trailers for the past 2+ years with sometimes up to 6 family members.  They are now in spacious energy efficient homes, finally getting back to some sort of normalcy."

Global Community Development is working in association with the Bayside Park Builders Association.  Together they have taken on an area of Mississippi so badly affected by Katrina that before they could even begin reconstructing housing, projects were put in place to clean up that which the storm had left behind.  Now, almost three years on, Bayside Park has become something of a flagship development for showing the rest of the world what can be achieved with hard work, determination, perseverance and international commitment.  Bayside Park has become a community once again, inhabited by those who lost their homes because of Katrina.

The residential development is largely made up of homes bought by international investors who benefit from fantastic mortgage facilities and the excellent financial and tax incentives of the GO Zone Act as well as high demand and strong rental yields.  They buy the homes off plan, effectively financing their construction, and they then rent them out to the waiting tenant demand and ensure that once displaced families are now living in the likes of the Sierra A houses on Bayside Park. These are energy efficient, eco friendly, steel frame, robust 4 bed, 2 bath houses that are cost effective to run and spacious enough for a large family.