Recent Storms Increase Appeal For Buyout Plan

By Al Showers - bio | email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Replacing insulation and sheet rock is getting to be a routine thing for Greg Bonano. His Bayou LaCroix home has flooded five times in the past five years.

"I just feel I'm going to keep losing, you know. So I'm ready to get to higher ground," Bonano said.

Gustav sent three feet of water into his home.

"I'm all for the buyout. Because the way my house is situated, it can't be elevated, because it's a two story split level. We can't move on until we can get rid of this house, cause there's no way that we could sell it.Nobody wants to buy a flooded home that's going to keep flooding."

Just down the street, you'll hear the same reaction to the buyout proposal from Pam and Vernard Gauthreaux.

"Just give us fair market value and we'd sell tomorrow with no thought in our minds."

The Gauthreauxs' home just missed taking in water during Hurricane Ike, but their street did flood.

"We're both disabled and we got caught twice back here in the water to where we couldn't get out," Gauthreaux said.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has set aside $10 million for a buyout program targeting low lying areas of unincorporated Hancock County.

Hancock County Chancery Clerk Tim Kellar said, "The first thing that will have to happen, the Board would have to choose that area to be one of the areas that is eligible for the buyout program. Then you get into the repetitive losses. Have these folks had repetitive losses? The third thing would be, are they willing to be bought out?"

Hancock County Supervisors say there are downsides to the buyout program. The county stands to lose property taxes and many communities could start resembling ghost towns if enough people opt to sell out.

There will be a series of public hearings on the issue before county leaders commit to entering into the program.