Waveland man says MEMA deadline may leave him homeless

By Al Showers - bio | email

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Jimmy Bodden was living in a double-wide trailer in Hancock County before Hurricane Katrina destroyed his home. He received a FEMA trailer and then a Mississippi Cottage. But now, he and his fiancee are being forced to find other living arrangements, since MEMA will be pulling his cottage in a few days. His solution was a fifth wheel RV.

"We got the trailer one day. We felt good. My fiancee and I, the next morning, we had a knock on the door. 'You've got to move it in 30 days,'" Bodden said.

The area where Bodden and his fiancee, Mela Moquie, live no longer allows travel trailers or RVs.

"Since they annexed this area into the city of Waveland, they have changed the codes. They left us high and dry because we have $60,000 of dirt here that we can't use," Moquie said.

According to Waveland building official Brent Anderson, the city allows trailers only in designated mobile home parks. He said Bodden has had three and a half years to rebuild.

"He is beyond the time of being able to live on his property in this trailer. At this point and time, he has given us no intentions that he intends to build at this time. He's pulled no permits, presented no plans to the city," Anderson said.

Jimmy Bodden acknowledged he hasn't filed for a building permit, but said he just doesn't have the money to build a new home. He said he used $60,000 in grant money and insurance to pay off the loan on his property and the double-wide mobile home that Hurricane Katrina destroyed.

Bodden had hoped to buy his Mississippi cottage, but his land currently isn't zoned for a cottage.

"They need to get a grip now and think about how many people they are going to put on the street," Bodden said. "I know there's going to be a lot of people when March 31st. come around. When they start yanking these things out of here, all those people can't build houses right then and there. Where are they going to go?"

So what will Bodden and his fiancee do now?

"I don't know. They can't kick me off my land if I live in a tent or in my shed, I guess. But it would be nice to take a shower and be able to cook."

Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo told WLOX News that the city has bent over backwards to help local citizens. He said anyone who has submitted building plans or has a home under construction, can live in a trailer until the home is completed.