Gulfport Still Tearing Down Flood Prone Homes

The city of Gulfport bought and demolished Bayou View West properties so flood ravaged homeowners could find new places to live.

One of the people moving out of the neighborhood Wednesday was Carol Porter. While she said goodbye to a neighbor, Porter said, "It's hard to leave your neighborhood and your neighbors." But after 30 years, the Porters felt they had no choice. So they tossed away some unneeded items, and prepared to leave Jeffrey Circle for good. "We don't want to flood again," she said. "That's basically the bottom line right there."

Jeffrey Circle, Johnson Drive and Katz Avenue are notorious for their flooding. Brickyard Bayou spilled into homes on so many occasions that Gulfport, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency agreed to buy and destroy 132 Bayou View West homes.

A lonely gas pipe sticking out of the ground is an example of the Gulfport buyout program. It used to be connected to a Jeffrey Circle home. Now there's nothing there but the pipe, some grass, hay, dirt, trees, and a view of Eighth Avenue that Effie Reinike never had before.

"I'm enjoying it really," Reinike said.

She lives on the west side of Jeffrey Circle. The properties across the street, and on either side of her are now vacant. "I was raised in the country," Reinike said. "So it will make me feel like I'm in the country now."

The Reinike's could have moved out of the flood zone. But they didn't like Gulfport's buyout offer. So they're staying to ride out the next flood, even though neighbors like Carol Porter are leaving.

Gulfport had $7 million set aside for the buyout program. Economic development officials told WLOX News they've talked to just about everybody eligible to be bought out. City contract offers will only be on the table for another couple of months.