HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg's Public Works Department and R3SM are demolishing tornado damaged homes and structures for free.
"What we've decided is there's a lot of homes that have been damaged beyond repair, so the easiest way to help people get back to their normal routine and help everybody in Hattiesburg is to go ahead and demolish those homes," said Jacquline McClain, community development specialist for Hattiesburg Public Works. "We figured if we had the volunteers and we have other agencies who've partnered with us who want to helps us, so why not go ahead and do the demolitions for those people, help them get a fresh start."
The demolition is "absolutely free" for those who qualify, and will be done on a first-come, first-served basis.
"At the least, it relieves that stress of what am I going to do next? How am I going to get this taken care of?" McClain said. "And that financial burden. It's between $5,000 and $6,000 to demolish a house. Most people in the neighborhoods, they don't have that kind of money just to take care of that one thing, and they've got to focus on getting back. Where am I going to live now? What am I going to do now? So relieving that financial burden really helps."
To qualify for the free demolition, residents must own the property and have valid identification. The property being demolished also must not have any liens against it. People can pick up demolition applications at the Hattiesburg Public Works office at 1202 James Street or the R3SM office at 301 Bushman Street.
McClain said the department will continue the program as long as it has the volunteers and the funding.
"It's exciting to be able to help people and see the looks on their face, that stress relief, when you say, 'Well, we're take care of leveling the house for you,'" she said.
Once the home is demolished, McClain said R3SM has counselors and programs to help people rebuild.
"Once we've leveled the house, they have a program where they're trying to help you rebuild," McClain said. "It's part of their rebuild, restore program where we'll take it down, and they're trying to help you put it back up."