Next phase beginning for Cut-off residents
Tunica Cut-off residents got the first look at their flood-ravaged homes last Friday, May 27, and this week, many have already begun demolition.
All over Nel-Win Camp Wednesday, homeowners had piled ruined furniture, appliances, insulation, and debris along the roadways inside the community.
Many are meeting FEMA housing inspectors this week, both for a visit to determine eligibility for individual housing assistance and to assess the level of damages in each home.
“This is confusing people,” county planner Pepper Bradford said Wednesday. “The FEMA assessors who will inspect for damages will be here tomorrow (Thursday, June 2). We didn’t know about these other inspectors.”
Bradford said his office would notify each homeowner prior to the damage assessment so that the homeowner can be present at the time of the inspection.
Bradford said the county’s initial assessment had identified 13 homes that are condemned as unsafe to enter. The FEMA inspection team will determine if damages to a home exceed 50 percent of its value.
“The only valuation we have to go on is the tax valuation,” Bradford said. “If someone thinks that’s too low, they can hire a certified appraiser and use their appraisal as the valuation.”
Cut-off residents can also submit repair estimates from licensed contractors for the county to use instead of FEMA estimates.
Tunica County’s planning office on South Court Street is issuing permits to Cut-off residents to enter their neighborhoods. A Sheriff’s deputy is posted at the base of the levee to check permits before allowing cars to proceed on Fox Island Road across the levee and onto the access roads to the camps.
Floodwaters still ring the camps and some of the interior roads at presstime Wednesday. The river stood at 30.8 feet in Memphis and 42.7 feet at Helena on June 1. A second Mississippi River rise to 31 feet on the Memphis gage is forecast for June 7, but officials don’t believe this will cause any issues locally.
In other news relating to the flood, the Red Cross shelter at the Henderson Recreation Center has closed.
Kim Motschman Cribb, public affairs manager with the Red Cross’ Mid-South chapter, said Tunica clients were moved to Brown Missionary Baptist Church in Southaven last Friday, “after the local EMA requested to have the facility back.
“We had been open a month and all but two residents had received their FEMA rental assistance checks and the number of residents had been greatly reduced.”
Cribb said her agency was out over the weekend to distribute clean-up kits, family kits and bottled water to Tunica residents who were affected by the flooding. Red Cross meals are also no longer available locally.
Tunica Countians are reminded to register with FEMA now, if they have not already done so, by calling 800-621-FEMA or going online at www.fema,gov. The Disaster Recovery Center in Tunica County remains open Mondays through Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The DRC is located at the Dundee Recreation Center, off Highway 61 about 15 miles south of the town of Tunica.
For tornado and flooding damages from April (disaster declaration number 1972), the filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is June 28, 2011. For flooding damages beginning on May 3 and continuing (declaration number 1983), the filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is July 11, 2011.
FEMA and SBA are encouraging disaster survivors not to wait to settle with their insurance companies before applying for federal disaster help, especially SBA loan assistance.
“Waiting to file an SBA application could cause unnecessary delays in receiving disaster assistance and the survivors may miss the application deadline,” SBA officials say.
Faces of the flood: Janet Griggs
The water was so high, “you could feed cats on my roof out of a boat,” said flood survivor Janet Griggs, who has lived in the Tunica Cut-off community for the last three years.
Her friend, who was feeding the cats after the evacuation, told Griggs the water was chest high. A secretary at Delta Tire and Alignment, Griggs now lives with her father in Tunica with her husband, two cats, and two dogs.
Paula Deen Pledges $1 for Every Harrah’s Tunica Paula Deen Buffet Sold in June to Tunica Cutoff Relief Fund
The queen of Southern cuisine, Paula Deen, has pledged to donate $1 for every Paula Deen Buffet sold at Harrah’s Tunica in the month of June to the Tunica Cutoff relief fund. Paula Deen’s minimum donation to the Tunica Cutoff relief fund will be $50,000.
Tunica Cutoff is a community of an estimated 370 homes that originated from small fishing villages along Tunica Lake, a Mississippi River oxbow lake. Approximately 700 people were affected when Tunica Cutoff was evacuated due to rising Mississippi River levels. The majority of the homes in Tunica Cutoff are expected to be condemned and uninhabitable upon final inspection.
Saturday, June 11 Paula Deen will be at Harrah’s Tunica for her “Personally Paula” stage show where she and various members of her family tell personal anecdotes and interact with the audience. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000, online at ticketmaster.com, at casino gift shops, or the casino box office. The casino box office is open on performance days only. Guests must be 21 years or older.
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