A little hurry up, a whole lot of wait
It’s a waiting game now for Tunica Cut-off residents.
In the past two weeks, many homeowners rolled up their sleeves and went to work, pulling out sheetrock, insulation and furnishings ruined by May’s floodwaters.
They’re ready now to do what it takes to get back in their homes, back to the unique way of life that is a big part of the allure of living in the lakeside camps.
“I’m waiting for an estimate from a contractor,” Nel-Win resident Bill Stearnes said Tuesday.
Stearnes’ house and lot are clear of most traces of the damaging flood, unlike most of his neighbors, where debris sits piled along the roadways. Stearnes plans to apply for a repair permit from the county’s planning department, as soon as he has those reports in hand.
Just one street over in Nel-Win, Janis “J.J.” Robertson got a late start on demolition but now has the interior walls in her home down to the studs. She too is ready to start rebuilding as soon as she gets a go-ahead.
“Not a lot has changed since last week,” county planner Pepper Bradford said this week.
Bradford said he has received FEMA reports on about 160 homes, with the majority of those located in Nel-Win. He has a “sprinkling” of reports from the other camps, he said, but the pace has slowed.
Bradford said last week he expected to have reports in hand for all of the Cut-off homes by last weekend, but that didn’t happen.
Of the 160 reports received, only six homes are not substantially damaged, which means that the cost to repair them is less than half of their value.
In fact, Bradford says, most Cut-off homes have been deemed “100 percent damaged” thus far, because the cost of repairs is equal to, or more than, the value of the homes.
Bradford’s department hadn’t issued any repair permits as of presstime Wednesday, but two property owners are currently tearing down their damaged homes and bringing in new mobile homes, he said.
A list is posted on the front door of the planning offices to show which addresses have inspection reports on file there. Bradford asks Cut-off residents to check this list periodically and contact him when their address appears on the list.
Charlie Barringer, owner of Charlie’s Camp and a longtime Cut-off resident, says he believes his house was the first to be inspected by FEMA, but his address hasn’t appeared on Bradford’s report list yet.
Barringer has a contractor’s estimate in hand; he too is anxious to get back home.
“My wife and I want to bring in a couple of small trailers to live in while we fix our house,” Barringer said, but that next step is on hold.
He and others express growing frustration that the process seems to be taking so long.
“Right now, the homeowners need encouragement,” Stearnes said.