MDA Grant Application Deadline Looming

Storm surge survivors have until March 15th to apply for a homeowners assistance grant. To reach out to as many hurricane victims as possible, the Mississippi Development Authority opened a temporary assistance center in Pearlington.

Why Pearlington? Because there are still plenty of people in the rural areas of Hancock County who haven't rebuilt yet. And, many of those people claim their grant applications have fallen through the cracks.

Janyne Evans stood in what used to be her living room and explained what happened during Hurricane Katrina.

"The water got this high up here on us," she said, pointing to the top of her chest.

That's almost 24 feet of water that soaked Janyne Evans' second floor home, and virtually washed away her downstairs bar and grill.

Both FEMA and Hancock County have told Evans the restaurant has to move upstairs. So the Pearlington woman has to move her residence. Which is why she needs an MDA grant, "to build us a home on a piece of property over in Oak Harbor, because we can't live here no more."

Before the Turtle Landing staff served lunch, Evans made two visits to MDA's temporary application center in Pearlington. She hoped this would be the day the agency approved her grant, and all her post-Katrina stress would finally go away.

"It's at that point that we're tired of fighting," she admitted.

Stories like that are why MDA's staff is spending three days in Pearlington. MDA is hoping to help rural hurricane victims before the March 15th grant application deadline.

"We're seeing almost a hundred a week in the last two weeks," said MDA representative Donna Sanford.

In the nearly two years since MDA began paying out phase one and phase two grants, 18,000 families have put their lives back together. Those hurricane victims have received more than one point three billion dollars. And more grant money is available.

"So we're trying to go to them and make it a little more convenient for their application process," said Sanford.

The temporary grant office in Pearlington is at the Pearlington Recovery Center. MDA representatives will be there on Friday and Saturday. Next Thursday, a similar grant office will be set up in Pass Christian.