When Joanne Johnson returned home, the house next door to her had disappeared. She looked at the messy lot, laughed and said, "An empty house is gone. All of a sudden it's just, golly, it's gone."
It took a Coastal Waste track hoe just 15 minutes to demolish this Johnson Drive home. Many of the interior walls had suffered through flood after flood. The constant flooding in this Bayou View West neighborhood forced Gulfport to offer buyout deals to more than 130 homeowners on or near Johnson Drive.
Gulfport Urban Planner Bill Hessell said, "Presently we're probably in the area of 30-40 homes that we officially own and another 20 or so above that we are under contract to purchase in the next few months."
Joanne Johnson just agreed to sell her flood prone home to Gulfport. It's right next door to this Johnson Drive demolition site. "I'm just tired of cleaning up the mess out, Johnson said, referring to the different floods that damaged her furniture. "It just made me sick, plum sick about it."
By the end of the week, six Bayou View West homes will be flattened. Gulfport thinks it can complete the demotion work in less than two years. "Initially we were thinking a couple of years," Hessell said. "But it looks like it's moving pretty quick now."
The city has vowed to prevent future development in this flood prone community.
Between Gulfport and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the city has seven million dollars to spend on its buyout program.