Deposits lead to confusion in Tunica

Evacuees living in apartments in Tunica County face a delima:  They picked apartments there because the rent is low, and because they thought security deposits would be waived.

Almost 70 families evacuated from New Orleans live at the Kirby Estate Apartments in Tunica County.

They left a day before Hurricane Katrina moved ashore and came to Tunica. The first day they stayed in a hotel, then a Red Cross shelter for a week. Finally after getting two thousand dollars per family, they came to the Kirby Estate Apartments.

Many of the families knew they should be careful about what they spend.  Many of their living expenses are month to month.

Here's the problem:  Some evacuees say they were told the water and power company would waive initial deposits to open accounts.  The evacuees say they were forced to pay the deposits, or their water would be turned off.

They say they have been looking for jobs but haven't found any so far.

Mike Young, manager of the water company, says it is illegal in Mississippi to waive deposits.   But the evacuees don't have to worry about losing water or electricity.

"There is no threat of turning water off," he said. "I think there's been some confusion."

The board of directors of the utility companies have asked the state for a ruling on whether the deposits can be waived. If that happens, the families who paid the deposits would get their money back.