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Last Updated: Monday, 28 August 2006, 18:46 GMT 19:46 UK
Storm victims feel anger, neglect
By Michaela Graichen
BBC News, Waveland, Mississippi

One year after Hurricane Katrina, many people in the small Mississippi town of Waveland feel cheated. Others feel neglected.

Brian Mollere
Brian Mollere fled his home as it collapsed
Cheated because insurance companies have only paid out for wind damage, not water damage.

Neglected because New Orleans, about 60 miles (100km) away, continues to dominate media attention.

Some hurricane survivors in Waveland say the famous city known as the Big Easy has also been given more recovery money from the federal government.

The people of Waveland lived through a catastrophic event.

Locals say winds of 140 mph (225 km/h) battered the seaside town, sending a 35-foot (10.5-metre) surge of water up the main street.

Businesses and homes were wiped out. A huge pile of debris collected next to the oak tree near the town's railway tracks.

Death in the family

Brian Mollere, 50, was being tossed around in the flood waters with his overweight Chihuahua Rocky tucked under his arm.

The water swept Brian into tree tops and ripped off his shorts and shoes.

See what Brian Mollere's home town looked like when Katrina hit

"All the buildings behind me were just collapsing, collapsing, collapsing", he said.

Brian has lived in Waveland his whole life - in fact, he has lived in the same street his whole life.

That is, if you can call his present state "living".

Like most of Waveland's residents, he sleeps in a small trailer, or caravan, provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Fema.

Brian is not bitter. He is not even angry that he had no insurance and lost three houses in the storm.

He is grieving the loss of his 80-year-old mother in the hurricane.

Wind or water?

Brian's sister-in-law Barbara Mollere lives down the road and she is finding life in her government-provided trailer increasingly tough.

Brian Mollere in front of his Fema trailer
Many Waveland residents now live in Fema trailers
Barbara shares the trailer with her husband Philip and their 25-year-old handicapped daughter, Mimi.

When I met them, Mimi was sitting in a chair watching television.

There was barely room to pass as I took my seat.

Barbara is one of many Waveland residents who feels angry at America's insurance companies.

She says she insured her property for $89,000 (47,000) and was paid only $10,000 (5,270).

That was for the wind damage. The company did not pay for water damage.

Julie Rochman of the American Insurance Association says that is normal.

Private insurance companies never cover for flood, she says.

Ms Rochman says she feels sorry for people who have lost everything, but argues that they should read their insurance policies properly.

'Olden days'

None of that helps Barbara, who probably faces the next year in her Fema trailer.

She spends most of the day inside with the air conditioner humming overhead.

It is usually too hot to cook indoors and she does the family's washing outside.

She says it feels like "the olden days".

Barbara does not know when she will be able to leave.

Her house is basically a shell and the family does not have enough money to rebuild yet.

Nor do they have enough money to move away.

Getting 'out of the house'

At the end of Barbara's street, the Mississippi Sound shines silver in the summer sun.

Dressed only in shorts held up by braces, 75-year-old John McCain is fishing with four rods.

He has been fishing for more than 50 years and likes eating the deep sea red fish he catches there.

Mr McCain loves the water and escapes his trailer as often as he can to "get out of the house".

It is a poignant expression because John McCain doesn't have a house.

Few people in Waveland do.

Those who have stayed behind after Hurricane Katrina have done so for two main reasons - because they love their home town and want to help rebuild it or because they simply cannot afford to move away.

Brian Mollere on his Katrina experiences

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