MEMA Looks At Flooded MS Cottages; Says No Money For Temporary Housing

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

BAY ST. LOUIS (WLOX)--Mississippi is still waiting to learn if 16 counties will be declared federal disaster areas because of Hurricane Gustav. Without that declaration, Mississippians are 'not' eligible for FEMA assistance like short term housing or reimbursement for some storm related damages and clean up.

In Hancock County where people still struggling to bounce back from Katrina, we saw MEMA cottages flooded and some even float away on Monday. The state can't yet say how many cottages were damaged because an assessment is underway. While some cottage residents say they can't get any answers about their future others told WLOX News that MEMA reps have told them to salvage what they can and get out.

Peter Weir started pulling his soggy belongings out of his Mississippi cottage, but quickly gave up. He says after three feet of water came inside, he realized there was nothing left to save.

"I lost all my clothes, my furniture, my TVs. Everything again," said Weir.

Weir says Katrina destroyed his house in Hancock County. Everything he's acquired since then went under Gustav's waters.

"They've already got mold growing on all the furniture that was wet. On the walls. You can't stay here," he said.

Weir lives in Harbor Estates, a low lying area. Just from Thursday's rain storm, we could see streets starting to flood.

"I know there's a lot of other cottages back up in here. I don't know if they got water but they're all the same height as this one," Weir said. "The trailer next door didn't get no damage, it's at flood level. But the cottages where put in here below flood level so I'm not sure what they're going to do."

"I don't think they should be back here if they're going to be under flood level anymore. If they're going to put them back in here they ought to put them up to flood level. That way you won't lose nothing."

MEMA officials say they're concerned about mold growing inside of the cottages that took in water. That's why they're consulting with a specialist to see if the cottages can be repaired. But if that is not an option, MEMA says all new cottages would have to be placed at flood elevation levels.

Weir said "Right now I'm basically trying to get in touch with whoever is going to take care of this. I've called every number that I can find. I called everybody and nobody seems to know what to do."

On Thursday a MEMA spokesperson told WLOX News that if during the assessments of the cottages, one is deemed unsafe because of mold the residents must collect their things and move out. MEMA says it doesn't have a short term housing alternative for these people. And since the state has not yet been declared a federal disaster area, there is no money to pay for temporary housing.