Bay St. Louis residents worried about letter

By Al Showers - bio | email

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - People who live in one Bay St. Louis neighborhood were shocked to learn their homes may not be in compliance with the city's flood plain ordinance.  They received an even bigger jolt when they received letters saying their homes may have to be elevated, relocated or demolished.

Bay St. Louis Building Official Ronald Jones said, "I can understand just by the initial tone of this boiler plate letter that was sent out how that a person can be anxious about it. But it was not intended for anyone to become fearful and that there are issues that can be worked out and that's what were here to do."

Ronald Jones heads up the Bay St. Louis Building Department. He says in some cases, building permits were issued to residents before damage assessment on the homes were turned in by FEMA.

If a home was more than 50-percent damaged, it should have been torn down and rebuilt at the new elevation.

Jones said, "We sent out a letter, a notice, of determination in that letter. It could be rather harsh when you first read it. Says like you've got to demolish or relocate or elevate your house but then at the bottom paragraph, it says please come in, call us or make an appointment, and we can discuss all of the various issues."

Jones said the goal is to stay in good standing with the National Flood Insurance Program and keep the city's current flood plain rating.

"For example we have a class 7 rating now which everybody who has a flood insurance policy gets a 15-percent reduction off their premium," Jones said.

Jones says there are several options available to those who are found to be non-compliant.

Anyone who received a letter and are unsure about their compliance status can contact the Bay St. Louis Building Department at 228-469-0531 during normal business hours.