Gautier Residents Speak Out On Flood Elevation Levels

While some cities have already set their new base flood elevation levels, others are still getting input from citizens. Tuesday night, about 100 Gautier residents showed up for a town meeting where they had an opportunity to share their opinions about what the city should do.

Trailers sit in front of many of the 1,700 homes Katrina wiped out in Gautier. But some displaced residents took time out to talk about how the city should handle setting new base flood elevation levels.

"If you go above the new standard, with more freeboard than what's required, are grants available for that type of new construction?" one citizen asked.

FEMA's new flood advisory elevation levels regard parts of the city that have been designated special flood hazard areas. FEMA is recommending the base flood elevation level in coastal areas to be at least 14 feet above sea level, and areas for the back bay area to be set at 12 feet above sea level.

While some people have already started building, others say they're going to wait until the city passes its base flood zone elevation levels.

"They're also waiting to see if there's any federal help down the road to help them do this," said Gautier Mayor Pete Pope.

Meanwhile, Gautier's mayor and city council members say they know they have some tough decisions to make.

"FEMA makes these recommendations, and there's some things they can hold over our head, such as insurance, loans, and things of this nature, and it will have an adverse affect on a lot of people's lives in our city," Pope said.

But Mayor Pope says residents' comments from Tuesday night's meeting will be taken into consideration when city leaders do determine the new base flood zone levels.