WDAY: The News Leader

Published September 16, 2012, 07:07 PM

Waiting for FEMA funds has families in Barnes County running out of hope

Barnes County (WDAY TV) -- An emotional update tonight on a story we've been following. Families in Barnes County are running out of hope.

Barnes County (WDAY TV) -- An emotional update tonight on a story we've been following. Families in Barnes County say they're running out of hope.

One year ago, some were forced to abandon their homes when land near Lake Ashtabula started shifting. They're still waiting for FEMA loans, facing financial crisis.

For Jan Bury, each day is immense struggle to stay positive.

Jan Bury: "I want our own. I want my home back at the lake and I can't have that."

Bury has no choice. Because of landslides, her home on Lake Ashtabula is no longer livable. She's now desperately waiting for FEMA funds.

Jan Bury: "the anger started first and the depression is still going on. Because we are still in the same place we were a year ago. Nothing has changed."

For the Bury's, this was it. This was their paradise, the place they wanted to retire. Now, shifting soil has forced them out. Take a look at the tops of those trees right there. The land has shifted between 10 and 12 feet, and it's now unsafe.

Bury: "I can't take the grandkids out there. I was scared to walk out there much less take the kids out there."

Things are overgrown now. But last year when we were here, John Bury painted us a grim picture of the details: disconnected phone lines, broken sewer pipes, their home shifting off cinder blocks.

John Bury: "I pull in the driveway and the tears just start. Especially because just sad to see what's happened."

Jan's neighbor Juleen Cruff's in the same boat. What was once a smooth slope is now littered with landslides.

Cruff: "it's making the house shift. So windows won't shut. Doors won't shut."

The Cruff's and the Bury's are both running out of time, and money, waiting for a permanent fix.

Cruff: "it's scarey. We still have our obligations with our house payments and now starting a new place, we will have obligations there."

That fear of the unknown, that uncertainty, sits like a black cloud heavy over their heads. They say hope is hard to hang on to.

Cruff says applying for FEMA is not free. Cruff spent $2,500 to submit her application to the South Central Dakota Regional Council, which FEMA says may be reimbursed.

Paperwork needs to be cleared with state and federal agencies, so it takes time, between 1 and 5 years. FEMA says these properties have been marked as a priority.