Some hope for homeowners
BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. Hancock County homeowners who may benefit from a massive federal bailout now before the Senate are optimistic about what they’ve heard so far but reluctant to get their hopes too high.
“We are very excited about this,” says Waveland resident Dan McManus, who appears to be a poster boy for the group the legislation aims to help: homeowners who were told they didn’t live in a flood prone area and therefore didn’t have flood insurance.
In the wake of the Aug. 29 storm, many insurers are refusing to pay claims on standard homeowners policies or hurricane coverage, saying the damage was caused by flooding and clearly exempted. That has set off a flurry of legal wrangling and government probes as property owners face mounting mortgage payments on their demolished homes and wonder if they should try to rebuild or simply walk away from their debts.
The state’s congressional delegation has floated a number of ideas to provide relief and the House this week passed a $29 billion hurricane relief package that could eventually lead to $5 billion in grants to Mississippi homeowners like McManus.
Initial acc mulberry ounts of the program indicate that only flood victims who own their homes would be eligible for grant assistance and that any FEMA payments the homeowners have already received would be deducted from a maximum grant of $150,000.
“That would be wonderful,” says Bay St. Louis restaurant manager Honey Spoon, whose Waveland cottage was filled with nine feet of seawater and knocked from its foundation. “That would be exceptional.”
But Rory MacDowell, chairman of the Hancock County Citizens in Action, cautions that “the devil will be in the details . if it takes six to eight months to get it.
That’s one of the reasons for caution among the likes of McManus, who returned after Katrina to find his Nicholson Avenue home destroyed.
“I don’t know what kind of time period this thing is going to be,” he says. But if it works out, “This is good news for us and it’s good news for the insurance companies.”
As he worked on cleaning debris from his Bay St. Louis yard, George Waymire mused that his father “used to say, ‘Don’t count it until you hold it in your hand,'” but allowed that the bailout could be “Christmas three days early.”
Bay St. Louis artist Kai Drobish echoed that hope. “I’m praying, you don’t know how hard I’m praying,” said Drobish, who owns two homes in the heart of the city’s Old Town. One, ravaged by Katrina, housed her studio. “I just heard about it today and when I did, I said, ‘I hope to God my studio falls in (the parameters of the program).’
“We’re just waiting for the rules to come out and then we’ll all have a better idea.”
Geoff Belcher, who takes the region’s temperature daily as editor of the Sea Coast Echo, counts himself “among the hopeful,” but says he still sees “a lot of distrust of the federal government” among residents despite all the relief the Federal Emergency Management Agency has poured into the area.
“There’s still a sense that this isn’t goin mulberry g to be a cure all but I definitely think it’s going to help thousands of people,” Belcher said.
No sparkling entrance for new year
Do you think the people along the coast do not pay taxes? I can assure you I pay my fair share and I can also assure you that some of the taxes I pay go for things I may not feel they should, but I still pay. If the communities here along the coast are going to survive, they need people to live here, and if the people are going to live here, we need help to get our homes back. The people here that are so quick to be critical, have you never made a mistake in your life. Well, alot of people can see now that it was a mistake not to have flood insurance. These are not people that are new to the area, these are people whose families have lived here for generations and NOTHING LIKE THIS HAS EVER HAPPENED HERE BEFORE. But without some help from the government alot of people don know what they are going to do. What do you think will happen if alot of these people go bankrupt? The banks foreclose on their houses? Do you not think this will be felt throughout the nation also?
To SouthernPride in MS: You should be ashamed of yourself. Those of us up north do not begrudge the people who have suffered from these hurricanes assistance from the government. Personally, I would rather our taxes go to help people in this country than to pay the bill to get our young people and many other innocent people killed over in Iraq. As far as help with heating bills goes a person has to be extremely poor to even qualify for heating assistance. I have to watch the pennies in order to pay my bills and I cannot qualify for heating assistance and I know there are many people who make a lot less than I do that don qualify either. I think you should get your facts straight before you start making hateful remarks. And, furthermore, the gas prices have risen because of the storms down your way, so those who are receiving assistance with their heat bill are victims the same as you.
It does seem to me that when people in this country are responsible enough to plan ahead and insure their property and family adequately they ARE penalized. In this situation those with insurance are subject to a cap with a loan and those without will get a “bailout”. It is kind of like the Sept 11th situation all families received a “cash reward” and those with life insurance policies h mulberry ad the amount they received from insurance proceeds deducted from their “cash reward”. Folks something is really wrong with this picture! When those of us who properly insure and don think its OK, the government will bail us out get penalized, that is just WRONG! And I agree the real winner in the Katrina situation is the insurance companies because if the government bails people out they are off the hook!
As a north Mississippi resident, I can see valid points on all sides. To those bashing the residents without insurance, I would first note that Hurricane Camille was known for decades as the worst storm EVER to hit America. And the fact is that the storm surge from Katrina was several FEET higher than that from Camille. I can see how many of the residents didn have flood insurance it was simply unimaginable that a hurricane would hit the same place and produce surges worse than those under Camille.
I can also understand those who don want their tax dollars to bail out those with insurance. But it a done deal now you can thank Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committe for that. If not for his power, this bailout would have never occurred. That the way power works in this country.
I do admit I was shocked by the comments of Jen from Waveland/Houston. She is outraged that her former neighbors are being given a lifeline because it means she paid insurance premiums for nothing. Well, sorry you got that piece of coal in your stocking, Jen! I can sort of understand non Mississippian feeling that way, but for a former Waveland resident to be upset because her neighbors are being helped is beyond the pale.
We on the Coast have all met a monster none of us ever contemplated. The losses are far beyond what any photo can depict. You have to see it to understand. What the government is doing to help us is received with a grateful heart. Let quit the hurtful criticism of that effort. It is truly SMALL in comparasion to the TRILLIONS of dollars spent. The AMERICAN people of the Gulf Coast are suffering and we need you prayers and even greater help than we have received thus far to live NORMAL lives. Believe me, life is tough here and everyday needs the strength of our gracious Lord to surive.
I live in Long Beach, MS and yes my house was completly destroyed. Now some are saying that i shouldn rebuild here. Lets see where should i move to that i don have to worry about anything destroying my house again? How about CA. NO can go there the ground shakes there. How about the Pacfic Northwest. Nope can go there mountia mulberry ns blowup there. How about the Midwest. Nope thats out because of twisters and that funny white stuff that falls out of the sky in the winter and personaly these old bones can handle the cold anymore. I guess that leaves out the Northeast as well so i will just stay here and rebuild.
You know, i think we all be a lot better off as a country if we stopped this regionalistic bickering and took the Founders statement of “one nation” seriously. We are bound together through for better and for worse, and to begrudge one region help when it is needed or to hide behind regionalistic chauvinism seems counter productive. We definitely need to be realistic and creative in solving problems, but we can do that without insulting people whose entire lives got washed away. I live in Louisiana and if there is a blizzard in the Northeast or, heaven help us, another terrorist attack or earthquake, i will send money to the Red Cross and not snipe about the insurance that is paid out.
I think if you copy and paste the address below you will have access to my online (Yahoo) photo album of Bay St. Louis (titled: SAR team photos). There is another album titled “Katrina Ground Zero” of aerial photos of Bay St. Louis/Waveland Pass Christian, MS. These photos are very representative of street after street, home after home in our 3 cities. Please take a long look, then give us your comments. (If unable to view, please feel free to email me for an “invitation” to view these pictures put “katrina photos” in the subject line). My husband and I lived at least 3 miles inland. We were no where near a flood zone, or water. In Dec. 2004, we refinanced our home and re did our homeowner insurance. Our insurance agent told us that we would be wasting our money on flood insurance. He told us that our money would be much better spent on our 4 children. He the insurance expert, right? We followed his advice, and our home had 4 feet of water in it. We are by no means stupid people. We are both highly educated, with post secondary degrees. We have paid more in taxes in the last 15 years than some of you have made in your entire lives. How dare you say that OUR tax dollars shouldn be used to help us now. Get a clue.
I feel the goverment should be involved in rebuilding the infastructure, providing temp housing and food, and low intrest LOANS only. When the government gets involved giving free money to anyone for any reason someone will feel they did not get enough.