Gulfport residents one step closer to Forest Heights levee improvements

Gulfport residents who live in the Forest Heights community are one step closer to having a solution for the ongoing flooding issues.
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 8:42 PM CST
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The Army Corps of Engineers presented its latest design plans for the Forest Heights levee improvement project and received input from Gulfport residents Tuesday night.

This project began in 2021 and the design is 65% complete. Along the way, the Corps of Engineers has held public meetings to hear from the people who are directly impacted by this project.

“What we’re doing as part of this project is elevating the levee about two feet and making some repairs in areas where the levee has been damaged,” said David Newell, the Coast Resiliency Program Manager with the Army Corps of Engineers.

“We’ve had an extremely positive response from the community. There’s always a good turnout. A lot of interest, a lot of involvements. It’s good getting that feedback because it helps us move forward with the design.”

Among those in attendance at the meeting was Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes.

“The ultimate goal is to make flood insurance in forest heights available and more affordable. With the construction of this levee, they should be able to get there,” he said. “There’s studies that go back from 1998 for plans to mitigate or address flooding in the Turkey Creek watershed whether it’s de snagging, clearing, those sort of things. This is the furthest we’ve gotten with a true plan to try and impact flooding in this immediate area of the Turkey Creek watershed.”

Ward Three Councilwoman Ella Holmes-Hines, who represents the people of Forest Heights Community, was also at the meeting.

She has been on the front lines, hearing from her constituents about their struggles with flooding. She told WLOX News that the impacts of this levee improvement project will go beyond just saving homes from flood water.

“Insurance has gone up from the entire United States, but when you’re not FEMA-certified in a flood area with this levee, it makes it twice as hard,” she said. “This is a great day for the Forest Heights Community and it puts money back into their budget, which is gonna make a big difference.”

The Army Corps of Engineers hopes to have the design completed in May 2024, with construction beginning as soon as Fall 2025.

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