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Sunshine Jim

eya gang, good site, good info.

saw this today, worth a read:

Life and death of the forgotten
Winter's rain, cold are all tent dwellers can see
By RYAN LaFONTAINE
rlafontaine@sunherald.com


HANCOCK COUNTY - For months, William Hayes and his wife have been scrounging for food and sleeping in a tent behind a storm-battered doughnut shop in Waveland.

Hayes said his wife, who was more than five months' pregnant, got sick this week when the temperature dipped into the 30s. Rain poured into their tent, it was cold, and his wife needed a doctor.

The couple was expecting a baby girl, but when Hayes got his wife to the hospital, his nightmare got even worse. The baby was dead.

"Nobody cares that we're living in this mud puddle right here," he said. "This ain't living; man, this is one hell of a mess."

Hayes, currently without work, and a few other families are living in a small lot behind DaddyO's restaurant, less than 100 yards from FEMA's Disaster Relief Center. He goes there often to check his trailer application's status.

The people here are among the dwindling number of Katrina-displaced persons residing in tents, sleeping under wet blankets on South Mississippi soil.

A FEMA survey conducted last month found that in Hancock County alone there were more than 500 tent sites, but just 29 tents were occupied by residents still awaiting temporary housing from FEMA.

However, the agency was unable to make contact with residents at 67 other tent sites in Hancock.

A follow-up study on Monday found that of the 29 tent dwellers, five had received a FEMA travel trailer.

According to the original survey, the largest tent populations in Hancock County were in low-income areas of Bayside Park, Clermont Harbor and Ansley.

The study has given clout to the concern that some residents may still be in tents along back roads, tucked away in rural areas, without a way to shout for help - or a FEMA trailer.

A similar survey in Harrison County found 139 tent sites, but only 33 occupied by residents awaiting trailers. On Thursday, a FEMA spokeswoman said all 33 tent residents had received a travel trailer.

However, Mark Schantz told the Sun Herald he and his wife, Susan, have been waiting for a FEMA trailer for about three months; the couple is still in a tent behind Grand Casino Oasis Hotel in Gulfport.

"We were staying with friends for a while, but it just got to be too crowded," he said. "We call FEMA once a week."

Though their lime-green tent along U.S. 90 in Waveland is hard to miss, David Lowry and Chetti Gilliam believe they have been lost in the temporary-trailer shuffle.

The couple was evicted from their rented home in Bay St. Louis just days before a FEMA inspector called to set up an appointment. They never met with the inspector, and a few weeks later FEMA told Lowry his application was voluntarily withdrawn.

"That's not true," he said. "We still want a trailer; someplace I can get cleaned up."

Lowry has been taking sponge baths since October, but the recent cold weather has put a stop to that.

I haven't taken one in about a week, because it's been so cold," he said.

Hayes said he, and others still in tents, have already been forgotten by the system.

"We've been lost for a long time," he said. "I'm not sure anybody gives a damn about us, at least not anymore."

Tents available

Harrison County officials announced Thursday that heated, family-sized private tents are available for Hurricane Katrina victims still in need of temporary shelter. These tents are large enough for an entire family to live together indoors, sheltered from the cold weather. Food is available on-site, as well as a laundry facility and security.

The tents are located at 4480 Espy Avenue and will be available until the end of January. If interested, call (228) 452-7150 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please leave a message if there is no answer, and someone will call back.

In Hancock County, officials said anyone in need of tents should call Cardia Williams at 466-821, the EOC Volunteers/

Donation desk.
Reporter Tom Wilemon contributed to this story.

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