TUNICA, MS - After weeks of work, a milestone has been reached for a small number of families in the Tunica Cut-off. Nearly all of the 325 homes there were covered up by flood waters in April and May. Now, a few families have made enough progress to move back.
"It looks like a bomb disaster down here," says Roy Smith, a Cut-off Resident for 20 plus years.
Smith spent weeks getting his home back in shape, erasing signs of the flood. He's one of the first to move back.
"It's good to get home," he tells abc24.com. "Let me tell you, when you're forced to get out like we were and are out for nine weeks it's good to get back home."
Out of the Cut-off's 325 homes, only 50 are being rebuilt and only a handful of people have returned. Many have chosen to move away permanently, saying cleanup is too expensive or too extensive.
"You've got to do it a step at a time, that's what's taking a long time," says Smith.
He lives in the Nel-Win camp, one of four in the Cut-off and the one seeing the most cleanup and construction. For him, moving away wasn't an option.
"In here you own your own property, just like you do a house in Memphis," he says. "So most everybody in here will be back."
But in a neighboring camp, it's a completely different story. People who lived there didn't own their land and they're not coming back. The county doesn't know what's going to happen to the empty trailers they've left behind.
Neither does Smith. He says the neighborhood may never return to what he considers normal, but he's counting small blessings that haven't changed.
"It felt normal when I slept in my own bed for the first time in nine weeks," he laughed.
The county planner says at least a third and possibly up to half of the people who lived at the Cut-off won't move back.