Is Cost Of Building Up Too High For Homeowners? - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/29/05

Is Cost Of Building Up Too High For Homeowners?

For many homeowners the problem isn't that they don't want to re-build at higher elevations, but can they afford to do it?

Right now, elected officials across the coast are trying to determine whether to accept the flood zone changes recommended in the government's preliminary assessment.

Those changes raise the building elevation requirements in many areas by several feet.

Some homeowners say they're caught between two unpleasant choices.

The house may be gone but Michael Petro plans to stay in Gulfport and rebuild what Katrina washed away.

"I was already basically at 25 feet above sea level. When the surge came in, we had water washing over the roof of the house," said Petro. "So even at 35 feet I probably would have gotten damage from water."

Volunteers from Mississippi State University helped Sid Rice salvage trinkets from his elderly mother's home.

His mother lost her parents to Camille, her home to Katrina, and now Rice says she may lose the opportunity to rebuild if higher elevation levels make the process too expensive.

"Because we didn't have flood insurance here, that's going to be a problem down the road in finding the money to do it with," said Rice. "If we don't do it then insurance is probably going to be prohibitive later on. I can't imagine having to tear the house down and rebuild it again because we can't get insurance."

Whether to pay more in construction costs now or more later in insurance premiums is a debate going on in many coastal households.

Frances Underwood likes the idea of building higher but is not practical for her "Oh, I wouldn't mind it if I could afford it yeah, but where are you going to get that kind of money."

Still, Michael Petro warns "It seems aggravating at the time but believe me for someone who is sitting here with nothing but dirt and bricks, I wish this one had been higher. I think they'll suck it up and build like they need to and they'll be much happier after the next storm."

Increased Cost of Compliance or I.C.C. funds can give homeowners up to $30,000 to raise their houses. However, homeowners must have already had flood insurance to be eligible.

The preliminary guidelines for flood zones coming from the federal government seeks to protect property in up to a Category three hurricane.

By: Danielle Thomas

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