Voluntary buyout of flood prone properties begins in Ocean Springs - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Voluntary buyout of flood prone properties begins in Ocean Springs

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) -

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - There is some relief in sight for some Ocean Springs property owners in flood prone areas. The city has secured hundreds of thousand of dollars in grant money to purchase land that floods over and over. The first voluntary buyout will close this week.

A slab is all that is left of the house next door to Dian Rooks. She said the property has gone under water with every tropical storm.

"It floods almost every time," said Rooks. "So when it floods, it takes two, maybe three days for the water to subside."

Ocean Springs is using money from the MEMA Hazard Mitigation program to buy flood prone property at appraised value. City officials say the program helps owners who are having trouble selling or building back. It also benefits the people living in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Ocean Springs Grant Administrator Carolyn Martin said, "When you take a development or structure off of a property that's prone to flood, it also allows us to improve drainage for storm water runoff in that area. There is potential for helping drainage by helping adjacent properties."

Martin said when the grant money fell short, Jackson County helped pay for a one acre waterfront parcel next to Shearwater Bridge. Together, the city and county are looking to use the land to enhance the harbor. A pavilion and a parking lot are currently under consideration.

"Public access to the harbor is one of the issues that we face on a daily basis," said Martin. "So by providing both pedestrian and potentially vehicle access, you're kind of alleviating a lot of issues that are already existing."

Rooks said she's excited about  the new green space.

"We're going to have something incredibly beautiful here for people who walk here in Ocean Springs to stop, take a little break," said Rooks.

She's also anticipating a positive effect on the egrets.

"They don't like noise. This will keep this particular area across from where they roost as kind of pristine and preserved just for them, as well as everybody that walks."

Ocean Springs officials say the city received about $800,000 from the MEMA Hazard Mitigation Program, which is being used to buy four properties.

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