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Jan 26, 2006

Mississippi Town Adopts New FEMA Flood Maps

Aldermen in Ocean Springs, Mississippi have passed a new city flood plain ordinance The Mississippi Press reported. The law requires new homes and businesses in the city to be built one foot above the recent advisory flood elevations issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In November, FEMA issued new flood plain maps for three coastal counties in Mississippi in response to Hurricane Katrina. The new maps, which are currently only advisory, have substantially higher flood elevations than the existing maps. Even though the new maps are not official yet, FEMA urged local government to use the new maps to regulate rebuilding efforts. However, many communities have been reluctant to adopt them, saying that such action would increase the expense or rebuilding too much.

City Community Development and Planning Director Donovan Scruggs told the aldermen that Ocean Springs' new ordinance puts the city in compliance with the new FEMA flood insurance regulations and could reduce residents flood insurance premiums up to 10%.

Eventually, all communities will have to adopt the new flood maps are be dropped from the National Flood Insurance Program. The new law only enforces the higher elevations on new construction. Buildings damaged by Katrina can be repaired and remain their existing elevation.