National Press Covering Biloxi/Gulfport Tourist Area
After countless neighborhood meetings held under the looming threat of losing flood insurance citywide, the Gulfport Department of Urban Development announced today it has completed a grueling 4-year process of bringing nearly 400 properties into compliance with FEMA’s flood standards.
‘This is a monumental achievement for the City of Gulfport, Mayor George Schloegel said. ‘It was certainly not easy, but our Department of Urban Development remained committed to working with each property owner, individually, to make sure the city was doing everything it could to help our people, and we thank our property owners for their patience and willingness to work with us.’
During what the federal agency calls a ‘Community Assessment Visit’ in 2006, FEMA discovered hundreds of private properties in Gulfport that violated flood prevention requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program.
In a letter last week to City Hall, Susan Wilson, head of FEMA’s Floodplain Management and Insurance Division, confirmed all issues have been resolved.
‘This is official notification that the CAV has been closed and the City of Gulfport is in good standing with the NFIP,’ she wrote.
By the fall of 2008, city officials had worked with hundreds of property owners to achieve compliance.
However, there were still hundreds more that remained in violation of the federal guidelines, forcing FEMA to say that because those problem properties were not remedied, it would consider dropping the city’s flood rating to the lowest level possible, which would have raised flood insurance premiums for every homeowner in Gulfport by as much as 10 percent.
In addition, if those remaining properties were not brought into compliance in short order, the federal government could ultimately banish every property owner in Gulfport from the National Flood Insurance Program, meaning every property owner in the city would no longer have the option of purchasing flood insurance.
‘It was a demanding effort, that’s for sure,’ said Gary Anderson, Gulfport’s deputy building official who managed the floodplain compliance process. ‘We worked with hundreds of homeowners; some had minor problems and others had really large hurdles to jump.’ With such a long list of non-compliant properties, FEMA and MEMA vowed to work closely with the city resolve each situation.
‘They have worked side by side with us for the past four years and we are very grateful for the agency’s help,’ said Gary Joffrion, the city’s interim director of Urban Development. ‘Any time you have a job and big as this one was, your going to have ups and downs, but we deeply appreciate those at FEMA and MEMA who helped in every step of the way.’ **
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**background data verified by Capital Earnings & Research, a Huntsville, Alabama PR firm and the story was developed with cooperation from the office of Mayor George Schloegel