Lawyers Question Pascagoula's Decision To Close FEMA Parks

The Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ) says the need for emergency housing is a problem Pascagoula still faces.

"The emergency housing conditions remain and in some cases are worse than before," says MCJ's Reilly Morse.

MCJ says since it feels emergency housing is still needed, it doesn't understand why the city of Pascagoula is closing down four FEMA parks. City officials said a special use permit was denied after considering the impact the parks would have on surrounding neighborhoods. But MCJ believes the city should work with FEMA's deadline extension.

"FEMA, only weeks before, had agreed to extend the time people could remain in the trailers, because they recognized the emergency hadn't gone away. For the city of Pascagoula to take the contrary position only weeks later makes no sense," says Morse.

The city says its working to make sure no one ends up on the street. It's encouraging FEMA park residents to come down and fill out surveys so it can get a better idea of what the housing needs are and direct them to the right resources.

"We're going to look for help through the 100 homes in 100 days, through the Governor's Alternative Housing and any other housing opportunity that might come up," says Stephen Mitchell, Director of Pascagoula Planning and Zoning.

"It's important for people to have that information. But, we do think there should be cooperation between the federal and local government," says Morse.

"We consider them a partner in helping us come to a solution.  We have a vested interested, so we're going to do everything we can to help them," says Reilly.

For now, getting residents more time is the help MCJ hopes to offer those in FEMA parks.

"We're trying to get them as much time as we can to keep them situation where they are," says Morse.

MCJ will hold another free legal clinic Thursday in Biloxi at 983 Howard Avenue from 4 to 8pm. The Mental Health Alliance will also be on hand to offer tips on stress.