In Rural Mississippi, Recovery Uneven a Year After Tornado

December 27, 2013

A year after a strong tornado hit Mississippi’s rural Pearl River County, residents are recovering unevenly.

Sue Hubbard’s family has a new metal roof on their new house, thanks in part to insurance payments. But the Sun Herald reported that Julian Stockstill and his family are still living in a travel trailer.

A National Weather Service team rated the tornado EF-3 on the enhanced Fujita scale. It had winds up to 140 mph and a maximum width of 175 yards. The twister was on the ground for 35 minutes and 24 miles, starting southwest of McNeill and ending about 12 miles east of Poplarville.

About 50 homes were damaged in the county, Pearl River County Emergency Management Director Danny Manley told the Picayune Item.

Hubbard said she had a long list of repairs and improvements she wished for her house before the tornado.

One was a metal roof.

“Jerri Sue, my daughter, said, ‘Mother, you know you got what you wished for. You know you said, this year we’ve got to have a new roof,”’ Hubbard said.

Monday, she was showing off the new house they’d moved into in September, a few yards south of the concrete slab where their other home had stood.

The new house is smaller. She and her husband, Jerry, have fewer possessions. Less furniture, not as many clothes.

“You realize you don’t need all that,” she said. “That’s just things.”

Across Sones Chapel Road, the Stockstills didn’t have insurance and weren’t so fortunate.

Julian Stockstill had dropped his wife off at work and was headed home when the twister hit his truck on the way back. When he got home, he found the storm had damaged his roof. It was already wet inside. Within three months, the house was uninhabitable — ceilings in half the house have caved in.

Today, the Stockstills live in a trailer. They say they’ve asked for help from the Red Cross, churches and FEMA, and were turned down every time.

Stockstill fears it’s too late to save the house. Their possessions are in heaps as they try to keep them dry. Every day more are lost – some to the elements, some to thieves.

“It’s disappointing,” Patricia Stockstill said. “What kind of life will this be if it’s forever? But thank God we’re here. That’s the best part. I’m a survivor.”

Manley said many people are still recovering.

“I’ve seen a few people built back, but not everyone,” he said. “All of the minor damage was repaired quickly after the storm.”

He said about 15 homes weren’t repaired and some people moved away. Others, he said, “are still fighting with insurance companies.”

 

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