MEMA & Hancock County leaders talk buyout

PEARLINGTON, MS (WLOX) - The Hancock County buy-out program was the hot topic of discussion at an informational forum in Pearlington. Representatives from MEMA joined forces with Hancock County leaders to answer questions from residents of the community. Some folks used the forum to vent their frustrations.

More than 100 people looking for answers packed the Pearlington Community Center .

"Since you're taking $10 million worth of property out of the system, and that's the tax base, how is that going to affect the mils of the people who stay here in Pearlington?" one resident asked.

County Supervisor David Yarborough responded, "It's going to affect them, no doubt about it. We'll have to adjust."

Much of the debate centered around a list of 116 names of residents who signed up for the buy-out program. Many wanted to know why their names weren't on that list.

"What can y'all do about these people? There are a lot of people here that are not on some kind of a list. You can check my taxes and see I was here during Katrina. I see y'all sitting there, but none of y'all are talking to us. We need help," vented one angry homeowner.

MEMA Representative Jana Henderson replied, "We're here to support the county in answering any questions that you have."

County leaders told the crowd so far two homes in Pearlington have been bought out. And nine others are awaiting approval for appraisals. They hope to purchase as many repetitive flood homes as they can with $10 million.

"After you buy all of these people out with all these empty lots, what are you going to do with it? Why are you buying us out?" asked another Pearlington resident.

Leaders said the land will be left to revert back to nature and become green spaces.

Yarborough told the woman, "If you don't want to be bought, it's up to you. It's voluntary. This is about helping people."

County leaders told the residents when the $10 million is gone, they will apply to FEMA for more money to buy more homes.

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