Video: Mississippi still staggering

By
NBC News correspondent
updated 9/15/2005 6:39:32 PM ET 2005-09-15T22:39:32

For more than two weeks, Katrina news coverage has focused on New Orleans. But across the state line, Mississippi is a mess.

Fifty-two of its 82 counties have been declared disaster areas. Cities like Pass Christian, Bay St. Louis, Waveland, Long Beach, Gulfport and Biloxi are devastated. Much of Mississippi is gone, and now, many here argue, forgotten.

"We definitely need aid," says one man.

"There is nowhere to live!" says another.

While federal rescue and recovery teams have been pouring in to Louisiana — and the Federal Emergency Management Agency gives updates from Baton Rouge every day — many Mississippians say the agency's hard to find.

"As far as FEMA and all, they are not here," says one Biloxi resident.

Thursday afternoon, FEMA opened an office in West Biloxi, the sixth office in Mississippi. But for people on the east side of town — so many of whom have no transportation — that's still too far away.

There are other frustrations. Lionel Antoine, a 1970s star with the Chicago Bears, lives in a tent these days. His house was totaled. He wants to bury his aunt with some of the $7,500 FEMA says it will pay toward storm-related funerals.

"I've called," he says. "And the lines are busy. I've talked to computers. I left messages and I haven't heard anything."

Meanwhile, Norman Bleuler cleans out his house while trying to put his life back together, virtually alone.

"This is ground zero right here where we're at!" says Bleuler. "And it seems all the help is where we can't reach it."

Dana Rowell's house is damaged, but her insurance company says not as much as she thinks.

"I was told I would only get $7,000," she says. "I have $75,000 worth of insurance."

Disputes like hers will lead to arguments — even litigation — in the weeks and months ahead.

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