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Home is Still a Long Way off for Some in Helena Community Flooded by Hurricane Isaac

By Rhonda Miller | Published 25 Sep 2012 09:30pm | comments
James Crawford, 28, of Helena, Mississippi, lost five guitars and most of his possessions when three feet of water flooded his house during Hurricane Isaac. He has one guitar now, which he's buying from a friend, a few dolalrs at a time. Crawford is a construction worker who's been unemployed for a while.

One month after Hurricane Isaac, more than $11 million in state and federal disaster assistance has been approved to help Mississippians recover from the storm.  But as MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports, many residents in the small Jackson County community of Helena are struggling to put their lives back together.

Surrounded by donated stacks of bottled water, bleach, clothing, and walkers for the elderly, 28-year-old James Crawford plays a guitar he’s buying from a friend for a few dollars at a time.

"After going through a major loss and everything, it’s kind of a struggle about finding yourself again and really defining what kind of person you are in life."

Crawford lost five guitars and most of his other possessions when Hurricane Isaac pushed three feet of water into his home. He’s volunteering at the Helena Community Center, a small white building overflowing with donations, inside and out.

"I work outside the tent, outside the building here. If somebody needs something delivered to their car, like foods, materials, bleach water, I help ‘em out to their car."

At the center of the relief activity is Darlene Whittington, one of the original members of a group called The Sisters, who help anyone in need.  Whittington estimates more than 1,500 local residents have come in for assistance in the four weeks since Isaac. And it’s not over yet.

"It’s according to how much water they got.. A one-inch person is back in their home and basically setting theirself back up. Some of these that got three foot to seven and eight foot, are still in tents,  they’re still on tarps. They’re waiting for flood insurance to settle before FEMA can come in and decide what FEMA’s going to do. And then, they’re having to get additional contractors in to get estimates. It’s a paper trail for them right now."

A couple of miles down the road, Sharon Sasser looks at the brick house she and her husband have been building for two years - paying cash as they built. The house flooded in Isaac, and none of the damage is covered by FEMA, since it wasn’t their primary residence. They’ve been living in a small apartment behind the house, and that flooded, too. Sasser says they got $3,900 from FEMA to cover damages on the apartment.

"I have days where it’s really hard to think that you’ve worked and you’re 58 years old and this is not where you’re supposed to be in your life. But I  guess God has a plan  for everybody and  maybe we’ll come back stronger, I don’t know."

Sasser is also one of the Sisters. She says helping others keeps her going, until she can figure out how she’s going to rebuild her own life.

Rhonda Miller. MPB News. Biloxi.

 

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James Crawford, 28, of Helena, Mississippi, lost five guitars and most of his possessions when three feet of water flooded his house during Hurricane Isaac. He has one guitar now, which he's buying from a friend, a few dolalrs at a time. Crawford is a construction worker who's been unemployed for a while.


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