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No brokerage is an island: Gulf real estate office rebounds

Post-Katrina real estate survival stories

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It's an ill wind that blows no good, and no one knows it better than Nicole Lombas, broker-owner of two Century 21 offices in Louisiana, who saw 50 percent of her business literally blown away by Hurricane Katrina. "We are on the southernmost tip of Louisiana, two hours south of New Orleans," Lombas explained. "About 30 to 50 percent of my company's business is done in our satellite office on an island, Grand Isle. It's on the Gulf of Mexico, the only inhabited island in Louisiana." That island was the first part of the United States to feel the wrath of Katrina. When the hurricane smashed into Grand Isle, houses built on stilts to resist flooding were lifted and flung into the Gulf. "Whole subdivisions were lost," Lombas said. The one bridge connecting the seven-mile-long island to the mainland is still out, Lombas said. "Not only are we unable to sell there or even get there, we lost probably 30 percent of our listings that were completely blown away," the Realtor said. "The rest o...