On the bloated Mississippi River, the unincorporated town of Tunica Cutoff, Miss., sits an hour's drive south of Memphis. There was a sense of relief after the river crested in the music city Monday, but it next took aim at the fertile Mississippi Delta -- leaving Tunica Cutoff residents wondering if they'll have a community to return to when the water recedes.
CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports that there are about 300 homes in Tunica Cutoff, and they have all been flooded.
Other swamped communities may rebuild, but Tunica Cutoff may not. New housing codes mandate raising new homes above the 100-year flood plain. Most victims in Tunica had no flood insurance, and couldn't afford raising their homes. So here's their worry: Tunica Cutoff could be gone for good, flooded into history.Swollen Mississippi set to inundate the Delta
Tunica County, which contains the unincorporated Tunica Cutoff community, has little more than 10,000 residents, and a median family income of around $30,000, about half the national average, according to Census estimates. It is also about 70 percent black, whereas the national average is around 12 percent.
Tunica Cutoff resident Jimmy Mitchell, 46, and his wife and two children have been living in a loaned camper for more than week at a civic arena in Tunica, the Associated Press reports.
"There's no sewage hookup. You go in a barn to take a shower," Mitchell told the AP. "We have no time frame on how long we can stay."
As Mitchell and friends sat outside chatting in the breeze, children rode bikes nearby.
"Cutoff is a community where everybody lives from paycheck to paycheck. It's also a community where everybody sticks together," Mitchell said.
On Tuesday evening, nearly 200 Tunica Cutoff residents filled a civic center in Tunica city, demanding answers from officials on whether or not they would ever be allowed home, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports.
Pepper Bradford, the Tunica County planner and flood plan administrator, told residents that those "whose homes are determined to be substantially damaged will have to comply with current elevated building codes if or when they are rebuilt, but residents will be allowed to return if they comply," the Appeal reports.
Bradford said many Tunica Cutoff homes were built before current flood maps and elevation codes were made standard. For a largely poor area, the cost of rebuilding to higher, tougher standard will be daunting. Meanwhile, residents must wait for the water to recede before even beginning the planning process.