Governor's Expo Wraps Up With A Big Giveaway - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Governor's Expo Wraps Up With A Big Giveaway

Tens of thousands of South Mississippians are still displaced or living in FEMA trailers, but this weekend, many of those people ventured out to the Coast Coliseum to get answers and find options for rebuilding.

Like many others at the Expo, Gary and Leslie Yates lost their home to Katrina.

"Yeah, our home was a total loss. We had like 32 foot of water, so it had to come down. Now we're stuck kind of not knowing what to do, whether to rebuild ourselves and get a contractor," Leslie Yates says.

That's why the couple drove from Bay St. Louis to Biloxi to try to get some answers at the Expo.

"We heard about this, we wanted to come, out, see what our options were with modular homes, or something to put on our property to have a home, and get some answers on these grants, what's the truth about the grants," Leslie Yates says.

Expo Coordinator Gavin Smith says the Mississippi Development Authority's booth on homeowner's grants was just one of the busiest sites at the three-day event.

"One that's really popular is one that FEMA's put together that shows how high you have to build your home. It looks at the flood elevation requirements, is one. And a larger venue, the housing options. We've had thousands of people out there looking at those, and meeting with the indivdual builders," Smith says.

The expo wrapped up Sunday afternoon, but Expo leaders say another one could be in the works.

"A lot of people have said they'd like another one. So, we're actually, we just started to planning a future one. We haven't committed to it yet, but we're certainly looking at that," Gavin says.

The Expo was sponsored by the Governor's Commission for Recovery and Renewal.  The Commission announced in early August there was going to be a home given away to someone who lost their home in Katrina.

Bay St. Louis residents, Suzanne and George Outten, were the winners of the brand new home.

The fully furnished Lexington Cottage will replace the home they spent three years building with their own hands, but never got to sleep in before Katrina washed it away.

George says he figured entering the drawing was a waste of time, but he's so glad that he was wrong and Suzanne was right.

By Toni Miles

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