Army Corps says flood mitigation won't help one state and hurt another

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Hancock County supervisor says he feels the federal government is not doing enough to protect residents from the threat of storm surge. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers updated the board about what it has done and what it plans to do for flood mitigation in the area.

Hancock County supervisors say until a new seawall is built, even a small storm has the possibility of creating serious flooding problems.

Steve Seymour of District 4 said, "We definitely need the seawall for beach road protection and protection of people's property values. Right now, without the seawall, we've got a better chance of if a surge hits of it getting to the people's houses where the seawall would protect it."

The Army Corps of Engineers told supervisors of its plans to build a new seawall to the same height as the beach road to better protect the street from storm surge. At least one supervisor said it's not enough.

"I feel that Louisiana has, for years, been improving their levees and adding new flood control structures,"said Rocky Pullman, District 2, supervisor. "I feel that we in Mississippi, the southwest part of Mississippi, have not done anything to protect our citizens. I don't think a seawall will protect them. I think we need actually barrier islands, restoration of the barrier islands. I think the Louisiana marsh needs to be restored. "

The Corps says restoring Ship Island is part of its comprehensive plan.

Pullman says too much time has been spent planning.

"We need to start doing things rather than talking about them," said Pullman. "The Corps projected or proposed putting some type of levee system here. A lot of people were opposed to it, but if we don't do something, the areas that we lost in Katrina will continue to be lost again."

Pullman says he worries building flood prevention structures in Louisiana will push more water into Hancock County, but Corps representatives say they won't sacrifice one area to help another.

"We will be coordinating with the Louisiana district in any efforts they are doing in regard to levees, storm surge and the result of storm surge impacting those levees," said Tom Smith, of the Army Corps of Engineers. "The bottom line is that there are no projects that we will be doing or intend to build that will save one area while sacrificing another. "

The Corps of Engineers say the seawall work is being held up by some right of way issues, but once the project starts it should be completed in about 18 months.