Hancock Co. Man Fights To Keep MEMA Cottage

By Al Showers - bio | email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Randall Murray has been something of a nomad since Katrina.

"I was in a FEMA trailer. Then they closed that FEMA trailer park and moved me to another FEMA trailer. Then they moved me to a hotel room. I was there approximately two months, then they finally showed up with the cottage."

Murray hoped the cottage would give his family a place to plant roots again, since cottages are permitted to stay in his neighborhood.

"Gustav came along and I evacuated to Tennessee. I came back two days after the storm, walked into my cottage and everything looked perfectly fine except my air conditioning unit didn't work."

He soon learned that his property flooded, and that some of the insulation underneath the home got wet.

"The water barely made it to the insulation. No beams got wet. No flooring got wet. No water got inside the house. The air conditioning unit did go under water because it's lower then what the cottage is. A MEMA worker shows up, walks through the place and tells me it's condemned, I have to leave in 72 hours," Murray said.

But MEMA Director Mike Womack said, "The insurance adjusters are the ones that made the determination on whether or not it was going to be cost effective to repair it."

Womack told WLOX News that Murray is one of a handful of people with flooded cottages whose replacement cottage can be raised and remain on his property. Womack says a new cottage will eliminate any worries of mold from Gustav's flood waters.

"All the families that had damage from Gustav and Ike, we're not going to evict anyone until we give them some options. But also be clear, long term we can't let them stay in cottages that maybe dangerous, so we're trying to balance the two," Womack said.

MEMA estimates more than 200 Mississippi Cottages set up in flood zones were damaged in Gustav and Ike. In the vast majority of cases, replacement cottages will have to go into commercial trailer parks, away from flood zones.