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Jan 19, 2006

FEMA Issues Mississippi Topographic Maps For Katrina Rebuilding

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has teamed up with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop a series of topographic maps for Mississippi Gulf Coast counties. The maps are intended to help property owners meet FEMA'’s advisory elevations in their rebuilding efforts following Hurricane Katrina.

Back in November, FEMA posted its Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE) maps for the three Mississippi counties along the gulf coast online. The agency urged local governmentss to adopt the new elevations to govern rebuilding efforts and urged property owners to adhere to the new higher elevations as well. However, one of the most frequently heard complaints about the maps were that they only provided the elevation above sea level new structures should be built. Without knowing the ground elevation of a particular property, it was impossible for a property owner to determine how high above the ground he would need to rebuild.

To address this problem, the two government agencies have released the topographic maps for comparison with the ABFE maps. To determine approximately how high new buildings should be constructed, a property owner should go to the introduction to the maps here. Then choose the link for the appropiate county and find their property on the ABFE maps. Then the same property can be located on the topographic maps where the existing ground elevation can be found. By subtracting the existing elevation from the recommendedd elevation (ABFE), a property owner can determine approximately how high above the ground FEMA recommendss new structures be built.

FEMA cautions that the topographic maps are for advisory purposes only and advises property owners to have an official site survey done by a licensed surveyor or engineer for local permitting purposes. However, the new maps should be adequate for preliminary estimating of the effort involved in complying with the new advisory elevations.