Is buy-out the answer to flooding woes

PEARLINGTON, MS (WLOX) - The future of 70 flooded homes and buildings in the Pearlington community remains unclear Thursday.

As WLOX News reported last week, the county's Flood Plain Prevention Ordinance requires home owners to elevate if the structure received 50 percent damage over the past ten years.

County leaders said they are looking for relief for the property owners.

Restricted permits are being posted on the doors of flooded homes and buildings in the Pearlington Community.

The Barnhart family received one. Their house has flooded three times since they've owned it.

"Now we can't rebuild the house, which I really don't understand. It really don't make sense to me. You can live here but you can't rebuild the house," said Gerald Barnhart.

Barnhart said the county's flood ordinance has put his family in a real jam.

"Right now we're doing nothing. We have our sink on saw horses to hold up our counter tops. We're in limbo."

The pastor of the Pearlington Christian Church finds his building in the same quandary. He said elevating his church is not an option.

"The congregation that meets here is mostly retired they're not interested in climbing an additional flight of steps," said Pastor Jon Collins.

County leaders said one possible solution is a buy-out program in the works for the area. They hope to speed up the buy-out process. But Pastor Collins said that won't work either.

"I don't know if the buy-out is the answer, if you can get fair market value for your home and you are willing to move that's great, but instances such as this church, we don't intend to go away. Churches are not the type of organizations that fold up and leave when things get difficult."

"We are looking for ways for mitigation whether it be shore-front protection or levees we've been in touch with Secretary Fugate about restore money whatever it takes," said Lisa Cowand President of the Hancock County Board of Supervisors.

County leaders have set up a meeting with FEMA and MEMA next week in hopes of finding relief for the affected property owners

If a property owner does not comply and opts to repair the flood damage without a building permit.

That property would not be eligible for flood insurance and that county leaders said could jeopardize the entire county's eligibility to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.

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