Region 8 Tornado Victims Get a New Lease on Housing

June 28, 2006 - Posted at 5:38 p.m. CST

CARUTHERSVILLE, MO -- Some Region 8 residents left homeless after a spring tornado now have a new address. One of the hardest hit areas in Region 8 following April 2nd 's tornado was Pemiscot County.

Since the F-3 tornado rolled through, the Army Corps of Engineers have spent the last 2 1/2 months building temporary housing Caruthersville.

"The first month we stayed at a motel," said tornado victim Jeremy Roberts, "It was like $1000 a month and we couldn't afford it. Then the last month was at my grandmothers and that has been hectic."

Since April 2nd's tornado, housing has been at a premium, but that all changed Wednesday.

"We have been trying to find a place and haven't found anything," said Caruthersville resident Gary Grubbs, "Last night the people from FEMA called and told us that a unit was ready if we wanted it and we jumped at it."

FEMA leased the first 20 mobile homes Wednesday and has an additional 50 applications for families to get their place in the newest subdivision, Court 1635.

"This is a whole lot nicer than what we thought it was going to be," said Roberts, "It really surprised me."

Court 1635 is located on 15 acres of land and has the capacity for 133 mobile units. For the families that lost everything in April 2nd 's tornado, it's a welcome sign of independence.

"This is letting the people take the first step to getting their lives back," said FEMA public information officer Paddy Buratto.

The FEMA lease runs for 18 months, but each tenant is on a month-to-month basis as FEMA case workers will work with them to get them back on their feet.

"FEMA's goal is to return everyone into their pre-storm status so the idea would for them to get into permanent housing," said Buratto.

FEMA is currently in the process of calling the remaining 50 eligible applicants to set up move in dates for later this week. Including the mobile units placed at court 1635, FEMA has placed 157 temporary housing units in Pemiscot County.