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LaBelle residents exposed to elements living in substandard housing

LABELLE — Sheila Mueller is one tough customer.

She, her roommate, and her son have been living in a tent in her yard in Hillebrandt Acres for two months since Hurricane Ike destroyed her home. Yet, she continues to have a remarkably good attitude and seldom complains. Mueller said all she really wants for Christmas is a FEMA trailer.

“We had a chance to get a motel at first, but they won’t take us because they’re all full. All the apartments (available) are in Houston,” Mueller said. “They may bring us a mobile home. If we can rebuild, we have to send in the estimate. I don’t know if they’ll tear down the house or not. I don’t know how long it will be before we get a trailer.”

Mueller’s house was “beat up” by Hurricane Rita, yet still liveable. It flooded this time from Ike.

“I have my ups and downs. I don’t care for rainy days. My mattress is soaking wet this morning. But, it’s better to be at home,” she said. “I was depressed at first. I try to keep up a good attitude. There’s nothing you can do about it.

“I thought about fixing up my garage or my breezeway. I like it out here. I see a lot of people with for sale signs and they’re moving, but I’m staying here,” Mueller said.

With chilly weather forecasted this weekend, she’ll pile up with blankets and fire up the chiminea.

Mueller also said Entergy blew out her utility line while connecting to her house before Ike, and she doesn’t have any appliances to use. Since then, she’s been using a cooler and eating Meals Ready to Eat.

“The church (LaBelle Baptist Church) was giving out meals and stuff. We just had the church to depend on at first. Rita, too. It’s just wait and see. I had my crying moments.”