Family Awaits FEMA Trailer

Hurricane Katrina made a mess of Dorries Street in Biloxi. It destroyed the place Jeff Pope's family called "home" for the past 15 years.

Now a frustrated Pope finds himself among the storm victims turning to FEMA for help.

Pope says he signed up for a FEMA trailer just days after the storm. His family has been staying with various relatives since Katrina, checking frequently on a trailer that still hasn't arrived.

"I knew it was going to be bad. I knew it was going to be bad," said Pope, as he returned to his old neighborhood, "That house. That's a whole house right there. It was back here. It floated off the foundation. All those bricks is where it was sitting."

Pope's house didn't wash away. Floodwaters caused it to collapse.

"If you look through the door you'll see the floors are up and the ceilings is down, so it's kind of scary you know," he said.

More scary than the house perhaps is Pope's ongoing quest for a FEMA trailer. He says he registered for one just days after the storm.

"It's sad. It's just sad. All the years we've lived here and paid rent and tried to stay between the lines on everything. Now we can't get no help."

Jeff Pope's frustration increases when he sees FEMA trailers delivered to others in his neighborhood. For example there's a FEMA trailer parked on the lot next door, while across the street there are three FEMA trailers parked on a single piece of property.

But that trio of trailers is empty.

"There's not any trailer that's completely connected right now," explained Patricia Tatum, who owns the land where the trailers are parked, one for her and two for adult children.

She'd prefer FEMA allocate trailers by neighborhoods.

"They should have found out the whole neighborhood, the community that wanted to come back, and form a process where a group could be put back in the neighborhood," she reasoned.

Jeff Pope is ready. All he needs is one trailer.

"We can't even get a small one for some strange reason. I don't know what's going on," he said.

There may be some misunderstanding going on. FEMA spokesman Len DeCarlo says the agency's records show Jeff Pope signed up for a trailer less than two weeks ago and may have thought he registered when signing up for general assistance just after the storm.

DeCarlo says the family has been approved for rental assistance. If they're unable to find a rental, they'll receive a trailer but DeCarlo can't say when.