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Gators, Gumbo, and a Great Program!

Real Estate Agent with Momentum Realty Group

About two months ago, a buddy and I embarked on what can best be described as the ultimate mancation, four days in the marshes of Louisiana hunting alligators and hanging out with some of the nicest, most genuine people I have ever met.  

On our first night, we were greeted at the airport by a friend of a friend, who I had never met prior to this trip.  Thirty minutes after getting picked up, we were sitting in his house eating home cooked gumbo. (If there is one thing I loved about Louisiana, it was the hospitality shown by everyone I met).   Little did I know that this was just one of many unbelievable meals we would be treated to in the days to come.

In the two days to follow, we tagged a total of 12 alligators, two measuring over 10 feet.  (I know this may sound cruel to some of you who are reading this, but it is absolutely necessary in order to thin out the growing population).  That being said, I can honestly say that this was by far the most heart pumping experience of my entire life, a great thing to add to your bucket list if you ask me.  

Gator Hunting


In addition to the gator hunting and great food, it was also amazing to see the complete devastation left behind from Hurricane Katrina.  Houses swept off their foundations, coming to rest a half mile from their original location.  People fixing up flood damaged homes and starting over from scratch.  And finally, homes being lifted onto stilts in anticipation of future storms.  It is this last one that really threw me for a loop.  You see, in talking to our hosts, they told me that as part of a government paid program, they were able to repair the damage caused by Katrina and then their house was lifted onto stilts.  Sounds like a great program right?  Well, I thought so too until it was explained to me.  Here's the problem.  Our friends house would have cost somewhere around $150,000 dollars to tear down and rebuild, brand new, on stilts.  The government paid $229,000 to a company that did the repairs and then lifted the house.  You heard me right...our government could have saved roughly $80,000 by building the house brand new, but that's not how the program works!  These folks were not given the option to build a new house.  They had to keep the same house and had to spend all $229,000!  UNREAL!  I only wish you could have seen how many houses were being lifted in the one area we were staying at!  

It's always good to know that in a horrific economy, our great leaders continue to throw away money on programs like this one.  Heaven forbid that the extra money spent on this great program would go toward building even more homes, feeding the homeless, healthcare, or any other number of things that are truly necessary...


Stilt Houses


Posted by


Mike Engeman

Momentum Realty Group

Comments (20)

Dan Edward Phillips
Dan Edward Phillips - Eureka, CA
Realtor and Broker/Owner

Good Morning Mike, great post!  If you ever drive thru Klamath, California on Highway 101 just south of Crescent City you will see manufactured homes placed on stilts.  The cost was excessive.  They are almost impossible to re-sell as no one wants to walk up steps and there is no view!

Nov 05, 2011 08:40 PM
Kelly Milligan
First Title Real Estate, LLC - Slidell, LA

Hi Mike, I am glad you had a great time here in Louisiana.  I agree ....way too much money was mis-spent here on repairs due to lack of common sense on our government's part.  And, way too much money was paid to out of state companies.  All we can do is keep on keepin' on.

Did you eat any of those gators y'all caught?


Nov 05, 2011 11:11 PM
Mike Engeman
Momentum Realty Group - Irvine, CA
Irvine Real Estate Specialist

Dave - Funny you mention Crescent City.  I use to live in Grants Pass, Oregon, which is only a short drive from there.  That definitely doesn't sound like a great property for resale.


Kelly - Louisiana was awesome and yes, I did get to eat some gator meat!  It was crazy to hear the mis-management of tax dollars being spent on the rehab of homes.  That being said,  I can't wait til next September so I can get my gator on...

Nov 06, 2011 05:11 AM
Harrison K. Long
HomeSmart, Evergreen Realty - Irvine, CA
REALTOR , GRI, Broker associate, Attorney

Mike ... Interesting post about your Louisiana trip.  I wonder what was the title of the US government regulation and program where money was spent or is being spent to put Louisiana homes on stilts.

Nov 09, 2011 03:51 AM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Mike - I'd like to say I can't believe it with regards to the houses, but I can.

As to Louisiana, lots of family there. It's always fun and friendly, and I miss gumbo.

Nov 13, 2011 03:17 PM
Nancy Laswick
United Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ
Your REALTORĀ® For The Valley Of The Sun

Mike, LA is truly the home cooking center of the universe. Great food, great people, great music. One of my favorite places on earth. It's a crime what Federal, State and Local politicians have done to this amazing state. They should be ashamed.

Nov 13, 2011 03:20 PM
Wayne Johnson
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORSĀ® - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale

Mike-That gator tagging sounds like a great amusement park ride, or at least a way to burn some calories and loose some weight. Glad you survived.

Nov 13, 2011 03:46 PM
Mike Engeman
Momentum Realty Group - Irvine, CA
Irvine Real Estate Specialist

Nancy, you are right...the food was awesome and I can't wait til next September to go back.

Wayne, I've done a lot of cool things in my lifetime, but gator hunting was by far the best experience ever!


Nov 13, 2011 03:49 PM
Marilyn Boudreaux
Marilyn Boudreaux, Century 21 Bono Realty - Lake Charles, LA
Lake Charles LA Century 21 Realtor

Mike, you had me with your title Gators and Gumbo!!  There have been many programs since Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita hit our area in 2005.  Most of the grant programs were helpful to homeowners, one in particular was the Road Home Grant which allowed for reimbursement of what insurance did not cover (which was a lot...not many had hurricane deductibles in place).  Since the hurricane both FHA and USDA financing guidelines have required even the HVAC units to be elevated and now buyers and sellers must provide elevation certificates which cost about $250.

Here in SWLouisiana it is not uncommon to see homes on stilts elevated the closer you get to the coast in Cameron Parish and even along the river.  the majority were rebuilt because they were wiped out and the building codes have changed since the hurricane.  Some who relocate to our area find it odd that you park your cars under the house and have to walk up the stairs!

I hope you enjoyed our hospitality :)

Nov 13, 2011 04:55 PM
Mike Engeman
Momentum Realty Group - Irvine, CA
Irvine Real Estate Specialist

Marilyn - I actually stayed in Lake Charles when I was in LA!  And, you are right about the parking under the house thing, but I liked it.  The people were unbelievably friendly too.  I bet you even know the folks that we stayed with.  Does the name Theriot ring a bell?  

Nov 13, 2011 05:16 PM
Rosalie Evans
Meritus Group Real Estate - Sioux Falls, SD
The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale

Wow the stupidity of our great governement astounds me more and more every day! With our great system of check and balances it is not going to change either!

Nov 13, 2011 05:45 PM
Brin Realty Associates Team At Bean Group
Bean Group | Brin Realty Associates - Amherst, NH
Amherst NH homes and Southern NH real estate

Add that government program to the successful (not) cash for clunkers and other government programs...they need to stop "helping" us.

Nov 13, 2011 10:09 PM
Fernando Herboso - Associate Broker MD, & VA
Maxus Realty Group of Samson Properties - Clarksburg, MD
301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA

Reminds me of a cruiseship I saw once anchored in Mobile Alabama where the Government hired them to lodge displaced families for over a year . .food and lodging. The cost for each person in a daily basis was astronomical. . . they could've sailed all over the Bahamas cheaper. .

Nov 13, 2011 10:24 PM
Frank Rubi
Frank Rubi Real Estate, LLC - Metairie, LA

Mike, I am glad you came for a visit. Maybe stay a little longer next time or hell move here. We will in Paradise in Southeast Louisiana if your into Mardi Gras,Golf, hunting, fishing, Saints, LSU all most forgot Crayfish! Yes the government has been wasteful.  When you come back give me a call I might join you on an adventure. 

Nov 13, 2011 10:56 PM
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Mike, a typical example where the government doesn't look at all the alternatives. I'll leave the Gator tagging to you though.

Nov 14, 2011 12:42 AM
Erv Fleishman
Realty Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Luxury Prop Specialist Realty Associates

Efficient governement is an illusion that is always promised at election time and then promised again four years later.


That is efficiency.

Nov 14, 2011 01:19 AM
Anthony Daniels
Coldwell Banker - San Francisco, CA
SF Bay Area REO Specialist

There will never be a shortage of ignorant politicians to squander our hard earned dollars.

Good post, thanks for sharing it.

Nov 14, 2011 03:40 AM
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Mike -- In other words, for what it cost to fix two houses, the government spent enough to rebuild three.  So for every 200 done, they spent enough to have actually fixed 300.  That sure is not compassionate for those whose houses haven't been fixed yet - and with government slashing budgets, many of those probably won't get fixed.  A terrible shame.

On a better note - glad you enjoyed the hunting and hosptiality.

Nov 14, 2011 05:50 AM
Mike Yeo
3:16 team REALTY - Frisco, TX

Mike - that sounds like a great mancation. Was that like a mancation package?

Nov 14, 2011 08:00 AM
Sandy Acevedo
951-290-8588 - Chino Hills, CA
RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale

Hi Mike, very interesting story, on all counts. Sounds like fun in a way!           

Nov 14, 2011 02:20 PM