The application process is underway for three billion dollars in Katrina Homeowner Grants.
That federal block grant money is being administered by the Mississippi Development Authority. It's designed to help residents who lived outside the federal flood zone, but still sustained significant flood damage from the hurricane.
Government assistance programs are sometimes plagued by endless red tape and frustrated applicants. But WLOX News found just the opposite in Hancock County Monday. Applicants we talked with give the Katrina Homeowner Grants program and process, a thumbs up.
"And we lost everything in the house. All our appliances, our furniture, what you see. We had to gut the whole house," said Justin Vitrano as he gave a tour of his flood damaged home.
Katrina's floodwater reached the ceiling in his house on Venus Street in Waveland. Volunteers from the Baptist Church are helping him restore the home. He's counting on Katrina Homeowner Grants to help pay for part of the project.
"They just wanted documents and receipts from any repairs that you made and deeds. Just personal information. Contact numbers and stuff like that," he explained.
St. Stanislaus school is one of three application centers for the state-administered grant money. Judy Therrell was among several applicants who praised the process on opening day.
"It was fine. It was real together," she said with a smile.
"Four and a half feet of water. We got home three days after the storm and checked it out. Within a week, we started gutting the house ourselves," said Kirk Necaise.
The Waveland man says the Katrina Homeowner Grant would be a welcome boost in covering his extensive and expensive home repair bill. He's doing much of the work himself.
"We did the painting. Hung the sheet rock. Whatever we could do on our own, did some trim. It's hard to pay the prices out there these days," he said.
Necaise and his wife took time out from the home repairs, to be certain their names are among those eligible for the grants.
"It went great. It was a fast process. Very good," said Stevee Necaise.
Eligible homeowners may qualify for up to 150 thousand dollars. The grant money won't be awarded until the application process is finished. That's expected to take six to eight weeks.