FEMA to decide whether Forrest County gets Isaac aid - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

FEMA to decide whether Forrest County gets Isaac aid


Hurricane Isaac ripped through south Mississippi one week ago, but the carnage the storm wrought is just beginning to be calculated, and the Pine Belt's most vulnerable area is coming into focus as a group of homes that may be slipping through a crack.

In just hours, three feet of water rushed into the Brooklyn home Tammy Cagle inherited from her grandmother after the nearby Black Creek crested. Friends and family waded through the house salvaging all they could carry and fit onto an empty truck bed. No valuables or even furniture was lost, Cagle says, but the house itself was ravaged.

"The way I think about it now is 'I'm too blessed to be stressed, you know," said Cagle. "It could have been a lot worse."

In the last week the family and community have come together in an extraordinary move of support. A cousin is a contractor and the church put the family up in a cabin in Wiggins, and the family has set to work scrubbing and bleaching. But still, with little savings, the recovery of Cagle's home is going on credit cards.

"From everything that we have put into the house - the tile, the paint, the stain, I mean that's not even including the labor - she'll probably end up spending nearly $15,000," said Cagle's cousin Irene Rosale.

"I can't cry over what's going to happen. I just have to do what I can do right now, one thing at a time," said Cagle as she sat on her porch Friday scrubbing a keepsake with a toothbrush.

Thirty-six homes in the low-lying areas of Brooklyn and the Dantzler community were inundated after Isaac's rains swelled the Black Creek - but Forrest County on the whole fared comparatively well - which poses a problem.

"We're trying to qualify for the full disaster relief that FEMA can provide," said Forrest County Board of Supervisors President David Hogan, who supervises District 1, which includes Camp Dantzler.

Federal and state emergency management officials are still assessing the damages to homes and infrastructure, but if there isn't enough of it - if the county doesn't cross the FEMA threshold that the three coastal counties and Pearl River County already have - those dozens of homes, and Cagle, may be on their own.

"If you look at Forrest County along Black Creek, really county line to county line, people are affected and I feel like that we deserve the same relief that those other counties are getting," said Hogan.

"I guess the rules have to be you have to stop somewhere," said county Emergency Management Director Terry Steed, who said FEMA's final decision come in days or weeks.

Officials are urging residents that have any damage from Hurricane Isaac to call FEMA and report it immediately at 800-621-3362.

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