Gulfport flood victims seek help, but options are few

Gulfport flood victims seek help, but options are few

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It has been more than a month since devastating floods rushed through Harrison County, and people are still struggling to recover.

Thursday, officials, led by Gulfport Councilman R. Lee Flowers, met with flood victims to discuss what options are on the table.

Unfortunately, there aren't many.

About 50 residents came to hear what could be done to get back to normal after the devastating floods on April 28.

It really was more an opportunity to vent.

"We're sitting there living on concrete with mold growing in the house," said flood victim Dennis Lawrence. "It's only going to get worse."

Lawrence had 20 inches of water that took out his furniture and his walls.

"We can't finish what I started, and I can't continue to make it livable, but we have nowhere else to go. So, we're stuck. Without any help," said Lawrence.

The rejection by FEMA last week hurt, and the option for a low-interest loan by the U.S. Small Business Administration doesn't help very much. He's already been rejected once.

"It was quite a letdown when we found out FEMA wasn't going to help," Lawrence said. "Then they said, well, just get an SBA loan. That's all fine and dandy, if you've got good credit."

Since FEMA turned down the city's call for emergency funds, it's been just as frustrating for officials.

"After going through Hurricane Katrina, I'm kind of disappointed," Flowers said. "But, I'm also proud in the fact that I know our community is very resilient, and I know our community can rally around folks that are in need and do the things that are necessary."

At the meeting, city and county officials discussed SBA loan options and possible help from other nonprofit agencies, including the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi.

The city's main focus is now on drainage infrastructure improvements in hopes of lessening damage in the future.

"A lot of our money is going into that," said Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes. "Good news is that there have been some channelized streams in this area and across the city, but we have work yet to be done."

Hewes said in addition, the city has appealed the decision by FEMA, but he doesn't know when there will be a resolution.

Meanwhile, other residents like David Wilson are still hoping for assistance now.

"We got to get help. We've got to get it," Wilson said. "Somebody's got to come up with a solution to help us."

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