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Published: Sunday, 7/3/2011

Couple build old-fashioned charm from post-Katrina destruction


NEW ORLEANS -- The long, narrow house of Karina Gentinetta and her husband, Andrew James McAlear, in the Lakeview district, looks like a classic New Orleans side-hall cottage that miraculously made it through Hurricane Katrina intact.

The tall windows have old-fashioned shutters, and the rooftop corbels look 150 years old.

But the house is barely over three years old. It was built on the lot where the couple's previous home stood, before it was ruined when the floodwall along the 17th Street Canal broke and the water rose nearly to the top of the front door.

Ms. Gentinetta, 42, a onetime lawyer, furnished the entire new house, not counting appliances and electronics, for $12,477. She found the 150-year-old corbels in salvage shops; many of the furnishings are from consignment shops.

After marrying in 2002, the couple bought a 1,300-square-foot cottage built in 1892 in the Uptown section of New Orleans.

In March, 2005, with a young son and another child on the way, they sold that house and moved into a bigger two-story stucco cottage in Lakeview, paying $389,000. Five months later, when Katrina struck, they evacuated. They were able to return a few weeks later, but the inside of their home had been destroyed.

They received $250,000 in flood insurance for the house, but $200,000 went to pay the mortgage on the house that was destroyed, and they lost $100,000 to a contractor who never did the work for which he was paid.

Eventually, with the help of a state grant of $100,000 and a loan of $240,000, she and her husband were able to rebuild.

Their new house has two bathrooms, three small bedrooms, an office, and a large kitchen and family room; it cost $356,000 to build.

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