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Mar 23, 2007

Biloxi Miss. Votes to Ignore Latest Flood Map

The City of Biloxi, Mississippi, has decided not to require new construction to comply with the latest flood map issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The City Council had previously passed an ordinance requiring all new construction to conform to the new flood map. Adhering to that map would have required base elevations as high as 25 feet in some cases. The new, higher, elevation requirements were supposed to take effect on June 1. By rescinding the action, the city is recklessly allowing its citizens to build in areas that are known to be at risk for life-threatening flooding.

More from the Hattiesburg American:

Mayor A.J. Holloway has backed the FEMA guidelines all along.

“Building back in a responsible manner is one of the fundamental issues of our recovery,” Holloway said after the council meeting. “We’ve been told this by everyone from the President to the Governor and our own residents. Unfortunately, this represents a step backward.

“Allowing people to build back under the old flood map – as we approach hurricane season, no less – puts them right back in harm’s way, even in a moderate storm or moderate flooding.”

Once FEMA releases its final flood maps this summer, builders will have to follow the new rules with or without a council vote.

Since rebuilding began following Hurricane Katrina, local officials along the gulf coast have resisted efforts by FEMA to require higher elevations for new construction, saying that such requirements would hamper redevelopment.

See also: Mississippi Communities Continue To Resist Adhering To New Flood Maps
Gulf Coast Reacts To New Flood Maps