Flood victims accuse property owner of discrimination

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Families recovering from devastating flood damage are accusing their property owner of lying and keeping them in the dark about getting their lives in order.

Wheel Estates Mobile Home Park residents say they are trying to get answers. The owners say, they are treating the residents like family members.
Warning signs are posted on crumpled homes, the debris is in Whitehaven where dozens of families remain homeless after this month`s sweeping flash floods.

Through a translator, mom Maria Del Pillar tells News Channel 3, she could only grab a few things from her home when water rushed through.

“The first thing I got was my daughter`s documents. I got one set of clothing for myself, one for my daughter and one for my husband,” said Del Pillar.

But what’s even more upsetting for many families, isthey say the land owner is being deceitful and won’t tell them what’s going on.

“We can`t ask for what we need, or want because of the language barrier. So we feel discriminated against,” said Del Pillar.

News Channel 3 stopped by Wheel Estates Mobile Home Park to speak with the owners about the floods and allegations of discrimination.

“Some of the families told us if they came in here and tried to speak to someone they were told you didn`t have time for them,” said WREG’s Elise Preston.

“Ok I`ll tell you what; I`m not going to get into this. This is a family run home here,” said Patsy Madewell. She and her husband Wallace own Wheel Estates.

Wallace Madewell served as interim Mayor of Memphis in 1982, before Dick Hackett was elected. Madewell says they have spent thousands of dollars to feed the families left with nothing. Their homes are behind Nonconnah Creek.

“You must have insurance, you`ve got to have that,” said Madewell.

“They also told us, they were told they did not need flood insurance, because this area does not flood. Is that true?” asked WREG’s Elise Preston.

“No, not that`s not true. If you excuse me, I came here on my day off, I think we`ve talked enough,” said Madewell.

But for these families who live here, they say they haven`t talked with the land owners.

“We would like property owners to stop taking advantage of us and tell us the truth. We are hardworking people. We just want a chance in life and an opportunity,” said homeowner Marisela Masias.

Another big concern for the families is that they fear the severe flooding can happen again. This is not the first time; they've lost things due to flooding at Wheel Estates. They tell News Channel 3, they were told in the past, everything is fine.

Currently, the families are staying in a makeshift American Red Cross Shelter. The shelter shuts down Monday.


    • 1midtownmike

      I have no problem with anyone coming to this country and LEGALLY becoming a citizen…….but these people are here to play the lottery by their own rules and it’s an arrogant disgraceful display of who they really are.

  • joe

    I am truly sorry this happened. It’s sad, also hard when you have to start over. I’ve been there. My sister’s home was destroyed by a tornado years ago. She came out of it with help from the friends, family and insurance. Stuff happens in life. It rained a record amount in 24 hours. How could this be someone’s fault? I guess people today are going to blame someone else for everything. They’ve seen it enough. Grow up, take care of yourself, your family, your friends. It’s your fault you didn’t have insurance. If we knew when we were going to have a wreck we would only have to have auto coverage once (some more) in a lifetime. Why are the property owners responsible for getting your lives in order?

  • poolgirl2

    Joe & Big Bertha , I agree with both of you. If you live in the USA, learn English, learn the laws, & take responsibility. We all have a tough time when misfortune hits, but we pull up our pants, wade through the problems & work our fannies off to help ensure it doesn’t happen again. We rely on family, friends, community, disaster relief & private insurance. That is the “American ” way. Yes, there are many Americans in the same boat as those who think everyone owes them a living, they don’t do so well either. Man/woman up & get what help you can. Then, be brave!

  • Christine

    I do not feel the residents of this mobile home park are being discriminated against. It is not the owner’s fault that you can not speak English. Also people need to pay attention when disasters happen. Even though I do not live in a flood plane, I do have flood insurance. Also I am quite sure the American Red Cross will help them.

    • Speak it!

      But it is the owners faults if they are speaking to the residents in a degrading manner as was stated in the article, “…don’t have time for them.” These owners are accepting payments each month, so they better make time.

  • Christine

    This is the tactics that illegals use. When you tell them that they may not qualify for certain services, the first thing that comes out of their mouth is that you are prejudice. A friend of mine who worked for the state and is black was called a racist for doing her job. She also told me that they get food stamps for their kids even though they do not provide any proof of income. Like I said before, the owner is not being racist. If he was he would not have rented to them in the first place.

  • Christine

    The reason that so many want to come here illegally is because they can receive government services . My nephew’s wife is from Mexico. His wife came here on a tourist to visit some of her friends. She met my nephew. Before her tourist visa expired she went back to Mexico. They decided to get married if her family approved of her marrying someone black. Her family liked him because he could speak Spanish and he could provide for her. My nephew got a lawyer to file the paperwork for a fiancee visa. He had to pay a lot of different fees. The process did not take that long. That is because he provided proof that he could support her.

  • blahblahblah

    Language barrier? too bad this is America and we speak English. Did they not have renters insurance? I say give them a bus ticket back to where they came from. and to those who want to talk about all americans are immigrants just shut up. We are dealing with the here and now, not the back in the day.

  • Alice

    The Red Cross has in fact been helping these people. Latino Memphis brought in translators so that they could get assistance from Red Cross. They received the same assistance that anyone else gets regardless of race, income or whatever. Tornadoes blow homes away too! Real Americans pick themselves up and don’t whine but start over.

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