Lost cottages of Gustav wait to be carted off, taken apart

HANCOCK COUNTY -- The eyes of drivers have been riveted lately on an unusual sight off Mississippi 607, in the southernmost part of this county - a sea of brightly colored hurricane cottages, parked behind a privacy fence off the road.

These are the famous and sometimes controversial MEMA cottages, brought in for former residents of FEMA trailers who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina. And even though the state's cottage program expires in March, this particular batch of little houses on wheels already has been retired.

"These are all the Gustav cottages," said Greg Flynn of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency in Jackson.

The cottages, which originally provided welcome relief, shelter and a bit more room for victims of the 2005 hurricane who had been living in trailers, fell victim themselves to another storm. All were caught up in rising waters during Hurricane Gustav.

Flynn said the cottages were insured by the state through Lloyd's of London. He wasn't sure how many are parked at the Mississippi 607 staging area, where they wait to be carted off and taken apart. However, there appear to be 100 or more parked on the lot.

Flynn said state insurance claims on the lost houses have been settled, and they no longer are government property.

"They don't belong to us any more," he said. "I believe they will be dismantled. They can't be sold as housing."

More than 200 cottages had to be decommissioned after taking on water in Gustav. The exact number has yet to be determined, because MEMA is still trying to reconcile figures compiled by its own housing experts with those compiled by the insurance adjuster.

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