Supervisors Hold Off Changing Flood Zone Elevation Levels In Hancock County

No one ever thought Katrina's flood waters would rise so high. The devastating storm wiped out so many homes, and now FEMA is considering changing flood zone elevation levels in the area.

It's an issue the Hancock County board of supervisors talked about Tuesday night.

FEMA has been studying storm ravaged areas in Hancock County for the past few weeks. The evaluation is far from complete, but FEMA has already come up with some preliminary recommendations for elevating flood level zones in the area.

"There are two numbers, 20 and 18, and those would be above sea level. And it varies, depending on the building sites," said Bob Durrin, a FEMA worker.

City and county leaders have the final say in flood zone levels. Hancock County officials held off changing those levels at Tuesday night's meeting.

"What the Hancock County Board of Supervisors did was just confirm that the same flood plane ordinance and the flood regulations, and elevations and base flood elevations that were in effect the day before Katrina hit, are still the same regulations and ordinances that they are today," said Hancock County's Attorney Ronnie Artigues.

Angtigues says there may be some advantages to building above the current flood zone elevation levels.

"It may be beneficial for someone to build at a higher level elevation than what they were before the storm for insurance reasons in the flood-prone areas," he said.

Artigues says that's because insurance premiums in those areas are likely to go up, as are the flood zone elevation levels. However, he says he doesn't expect supervisors to pass new ordinances changing those levels until engineering studies are complete, and that's likely to be six to eight months away.

To get a building permit in Hancock County, you can apply in the building official's office. Keep in mind you must comply with the same standards you had to comply with before Katrina hit.