GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Help for the victims of the flash flooding in Harrison County on April 29 maybe just around the corner. Officials from FEMA and MEMA are spending the next two days canvassing the county, documenting the damage left behind by the floods.
After the severe flooding in Harrison County less than two weeks ago, FEMA is in town investigating the more than 300 homes and 30 businesses that were damaged during the 11-inch deluge.
In between taking notes and asking questions, FEMA inspectors listened intently as the events of that day were explained.
According to Harrison County's emergency management director Rupert Lacy, FEMA inspectors are in town "verifying the numbers and verifying the damage."
"They'll determine if we'll get the individual assistance or not," explained Lacy.
There is a cautious optimism, said Lacy, because so many victims can't pay for the damage.
"They'll put into play that many had no flood insurance for a lot of those people," he said. "So, hopefully, it will all go good for us today."
After they talked with residents, business owners, and officials, the inspectors made their rounds to view the damage firsthand. They will then make their decision about what, if any, assistance will be offered.
"The general idea, what's stated in the law," is there is too much damage here for the local and state resources to have the ability to rebound from," said FEMA spokesman Kurt Pickering.
Visiting a local ice cream shop that received a foot-and-half of water and an apartment complex that clearly shows the extent of the flooding helps paint a harrowing tale of loss for the officials.
Another federal agency scouring flood-damaged areas in south Mississippi this week is the Small Business Administration, which offers aid to more than just businesses.
"During a disaster event, they have a disaster division and they lend money to, not just people, but also businesses," said Pickering. "And on the people side, it's not just homeowners, it's also renters. They can help all three subsets of people with SBA loans after a disaster."
Officials say it should take a couple of weeks to crunch the numbers and determine if a federal disaster declaration is needed in Harrison County. That call would come from President Obama. If it happens, a disaster assistance center will be set up by FEMA.