Pontoon Beach residents say they are having a tough time re-establishing their normal lives in the wake of January flooding.
Residents complained that many of them were forced out of their homes for a more than a week by record flooding on the Mississippi that backed up into their community. Those who remained in their homes had to live without electricity. They also said that little has been done to make sure a similar situation doesn’t happen again.
Steve Baine, of the Mallard Lake Mobile Home Park, said he believes his landlord ought to pro-rate rent for times when people either couldn’t live in their homes or do without basic services.
“They gave us no breaks, none at all,” Baine said. “A lot of people lost everything they owned and had to find another place to stay. A friend who lived here just moved out. He said it was the final straw.”
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No one at Mallard Lake answered phone calls Thursday.
Neighbor Patricia Waters said operators of the mobile home park are quick to threaten to evict residents if their lot rent is even a few days late. She said she’s fed up with the problems, and she’s planning to move.
“We pay $468 a month to rent this little piece of swampland — we own the trailer,” Waters said. “What we pay here ought to go toward a house. So we’re going to sell and hopefully buy a house this summer.”
Waters’ family is attempting to sell its mobile home to the park operators who she complained raised her lot rent three times in three years despite the fact that her rental contract supposedly locks in their rate.
Baine said he was more fortunate than most residents, because the flood water didn’t actually get inside his mobile home.
“I never left,” Baine said. “I used the fireplace and a propane heater to stay warm. I got lucky. Water didn’t actually get in my place. I raised it 20 inches when I moved in because it was below the flood line and it was just enough to keep me out of trouble.”
Baine said the only damage to his home was that some of the skirting was torn off.
“That wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the lookie loos driving through here, stirring up the water,” Baine said.
Waters said she also lost skirting from her home in the flooding and that a sewer pipe beneath it was damaged.
“That’s their responsibility,” Waters said. “But nothing is happening because they say they can’t get approval from corporate.”
Meanwhile, Waters said it was insult to injury that just last week sandbaggers showed up — long after flood waters had receded — to shore up the berm that was supposed to keep flood waters out.
Residents said they have been happy with the efforts village leaders have made to straighten out their problems. It’s their landlord their upset with.
Residents said Mayor Mike Pagano has been making daily trips to the affected areas to check on residents and see how the recovery is going.
Pagano was not immediately available for comment Thursday afternoon.
According to the Madison County Emergency Management Agency, $10 million in public damages was recorded as a result of the flood. That doesn’t count losses sustained by homes and business.