Holly Beach, Louisiana
Holly Beach in 1998
|Nickname: Cajun Riviera|
|Elevation||7 ft (2.1 m)|
|- summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
Holly Beach (French: Plage-d'Houx), also known as the "Cajun Riviera" (French: La Rivière Acadienne), is a coastal community in unincorporated Cameron Parish, Louisiana, United States. Known for crabbing and a drive on the beach, this small Southwest Louisiana community mainly consisted of beach-front cabins called "camps" which, due to the threat of hurricanes, were "built-to-be-rebuilt" by its residents. It is part of the Lake Charles metropolitan area, which has a population of 194,138.
In September 2005 Hurricane Rita completely leveled the small beach town. Almost nothing was left but ruins and the water tower. This was the second time Holly Beach was devastated by a hurricane; in 1957 Hurricane Audrey smashed ashore with a 12 foot storm surge.
A year after the devastation of Hurricane Rita, Holly Beach was slowly coming back to life, with some residents living in mobile homes set up on-site. Many former residents believe the government officials are implementing such stringent building codes that it's now nearly impossible to rebuild. Many of these dwellings are parked under canopy type structures for shade. The new telephone poles are set up carrying electricity, but are lined up ominously in the familiar rows, revealing the numerous empty lots. The current residents must sign a waiver which allows them to dwell there, despite the lack of a functioning sewer system which is a concern to the state’s department of health.
It became common to see portable toilets on the community’s road sides, which are well maintained for the few locals and visitors alike. For new structures in Cameron Parish, the new building codes apply. In nearby Cameron, according to the parish officials, the coastal buildings built before the late 1980s that had less than fifty percent damage may retain the same pre-Rita elevation. It was estimated that some twenty-percent of these structures met the criteria and wouldn’t have to have an elevation increase. But just how stringent the new building codes in Cameron and the surrounding parish will be enforced will be determined by surveyors using Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood maps.
It was feared that these strict building codes, along with the high insurance costs, would keep many of the original locals from returning and rebuilding, and that the southern part of the parish would end up with temporary trailer type housing indefinitely. Within Holly Beach, there are several permanent structures being built, with pier elevations complying with building codes. These structures are a testament to those determined residents who will not give up their beachfront living to any force of nature, or any other opposition that is put between them and their "Cajun Riviera".
Population prior to Rita: Approximately 300
In 1991, the town was immortalized as the subject of the nostalgic and humorous Swamp Pop song "(Holly Beach) Under the Boardwalk" by Kenny Tibbs (Kenny Thibodeaux) and The Jokers, released on Jin Records. In a close parody of the 1960s hit "Under the Boardwalk" by The Drifters, the lyrics explain that cajun vacationers "ain't got no boardwalk, just got seeweed, but we always pass a real good time at Holly Beach."
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