The Biloxi, Miss. City Council was scheduled to vote this week on whether to adopt FEMA’s recommended elevation requirements for buildings, which is one requirement for a community the participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.
The elevations have already been adopted by Gulfport and Pascagoula.
The Biloxi City Council has delayed implementing the new requirements until they are made mandatory by the federal government. FEMA issued a memo this month saying that any community receiving recovery grants because of hurricanes Katrina and Rita must take the action now to keep receiving money, according to www.sunherald.com.
Mayor A.J. Holloway said tens of millions of dollars in grant money could be lost. Holloway said he has wanted the new base elevations implemented since last year.
If the city adopts the regulations, homeowners who want to rebuild higher could benefit from FEMA increased cost of compliance grants of up to $30,000.
Chevis Swetman, president of The Peoples Bank, said failure to implement the requirements could leave Biloxi residents without flood insurance.
“If you do not adopt the higher requirements, the city runs the risk of being out of compliance and jeopardizes the National Flood Insurance Program for all of Biloxi citizens,” Swetman has told the council. “The residents will not be able to take advantage of that program. They will lose their flood insurance on their homes. This is the largest single asset the citizens of Biloxi have. You will put this asset in jeopardy.”
Swetman said banks would also not be able to lend in a flood zone.
Council members have resisted the new requirements because they will increase the cost of construction.
The new elevation height could be as high as 25 feet in some areas. The required height would vary according to the property’s grade level and proximity to the wave velocity zone from a storm surge.
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