Residents of Missouri town return home after flood

MOREHOUSE, Mo. (AP) — With floodwaters receding in southeast Missouri, residents of hard-hit towns like Morehouse are finally getting a look at damage caused by the disaster.

A brown line on many homes in Morehouse shows where floodwaters reached. The Southeast Missourian reported Thursday that streets were lined with piles of ruined couches, beds, clothing and carpeting. The stench of mold filled the air.

All told, about 280 homes — roughly two-thirds of all houses in Morehouse — sustained water damage.

A Federal Emergency Management Agency representative told about 100 residents at a meeting Wednesday that FEMA will provide funds to help, now that New Madrid County received a federal disaster declaration a day earlier. But the help will be for temporary rental housing and some — but not complete — funding to rebuild.

“FEMA is not a dollar-for-dollar replacement. It’s not like insurance,” said Don Devoe, community relations director for FEMA. “It’s designed to give you a hand up and get you back in your home.”

Melissa Massey’s home had 5 inches of water inside for five days. A FEMA inspector was there Wednesday.

“Everything was ruined. Even if it didn’t get wet, it got mold on it. Mold is growing up the walls right now,” she said.

Devoe said that residents will receive a packet a week to 10 days after the inspection detailing the type of assistance they qualify for, and a check. Residents were urged to keep receipts for hotel stays and cleaning supplies because those costs may be reimbursable.

About 20 people continue to live in a shelter at the First Baptist Church. Volunteers with the American Red Cross and the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief are serving 260 meals a day both at the shelter and through a truck that feeds people cleaning their homes.

Mayor Pete Leija, whose own home was damaged, encouraged residents to not rush back home too soon.

“If you have mold growing, it will make you sick,” Leija said.

Some in Morehouse blame the Missouri Department of Transportation for the flooding. MoDOT constructed an emergency berm on April 28 on the westbound lanes of U.S. 60 to keep water off the road, and some feel that forced more water into Morehouse.

MoDOT district engineer Mark Shelton said the berm was necessary to keep U.S. 60 open as a route for emergency services between Poplar Bluff and the Mississippi River.

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Information from: Southeast Missourian, http://www.semissourian.com

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