TUNICA, MS-- Tunica Cutoff residents, a least a few of them, had a brief chance to return home Friday. Their houses have been under water for about a month. County inspectors granted clearance to about 30 of the 350 homeowners.
Tunica inspectors were able to reach about ten percent of the homes Friday morning, assessing only the outside of the buildings. They've called the owners to let them know they can return and see the flood damage for themselves.
Larry McMullen wanted to find out if he would be one of them.
"Our whole issue is we need to get in there as soon as we possibly can to keep mildew and mold from our homes," McMullen says.
348 homes need to be inspected outside before their owners will be allowed in.
"I'm hoping my guys can do everything as far as checking for structural soundness within three, four, five days," says Pepper Bradford, county planer.
The Cutoff has four camps, and two of them are still underwater. It will be a few more days before the inspectors can reach homes in those neighborhoods.
"We'll just follow the water down -- going from camp to camp and road to road as the water recedes," Bradford says.
Inspectors have only been inside one home. Bradford was with them and says he was encouraged by what he saw.
"It didn't have any mud and no silt," he says. "The damage inside wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting, so we have hope."
That doesn't mean all the homes are okay. Every house is going to be different.
The clean up will take time. McMullen says he's ready to get started.
"I'm going to first thing douse everything with clorox, and use my pressure washer," he says. "Clean the place up."
County inspectors will be working through the holiday weekend. Bradford says they're trying to look at as many homes as they can, to get homeowners inside as soon as possible.
Once they are allowed in, they can start removing debris and damaged property, but they cannot start renovating until they get state approval. If damage is more than 50-percent of the home's value, owners will not be allowed to rebuild.