Gulfport Wants To Speed Up Demolition of Flooded Homes

The city of Gulfport wants to speed up the demolition of some Bayou View West homes before they become a health hazard. The homes are part of the buyout of flood prone property in the area. Many took in water when the neighborhood flooded once again last week.Since there's no one to clean out the empty homes, the city fears they will become a danger. Brian Caviness is moving and soon his house will be one of many empty homes in Bayou View West. He, like many neighbors, is still dealing with the mess the flood left behind.

Caviness said "You've got water that sits in your ashtrays..water that sits in pails and in buckets and in the carpets and as long as that water sits there in this heat I think its kind of a health problem."

Gulfport planning officials say there is no health problem right now, but they don't want to wait for one to develop inside the 42 houses still waiting to be torn down. Flood water is sitting stagnant inside some houses causing carpets to mildew and attracting rodents and pests.

Urban Planning Director Bill Hessell said "It's not practical for the city to go in and strip these houses out when we're going to tear them down any ways. So it's better to speed up the demolition side of it and then it would solve all the problems at one time."

Hessell will ask the city council for permission to shortcut the normal process of taking bids from contractors to do the work. Those still living in the neighborhood worry about the empty houses will attract vagrants as well as the health hazards the city fears.

Pam Russell, a home owner, said "I know these houses that are sitting here empty. That the people have already moved. They are nasty inside'

"The house on the corner. The white house on the corner," said home owner Paul Reinike. "It hasn't had anything done to it since Georges hit in 98. Carpet everything still in it. You can't hardly walk into that house"

The planning commission will approach the city council about speeding up the bidding process on Tuesday. Neighbors busy trying to get rid of smelly carpets and waterlogged furniture say they hope the city finds a way to tear down the vacant homes soon.

by Danielle Thomas