Hurricane Katrina

City flood plan approved

PASCAGOULA - City leaders Tuesday night approved this year's Hazard Mitigation and Flood Protection Plan that was put into place to better protect residents from natural disasters.

Stephen Mitchell, the city's chief building official and floodplain manager, said he worked with Gulf Regional Planning Commission members and federal and state emergency management agencies to devise the 2006 plan.

Its goal, he said, is to protect residents in future natural disasters by identifying ways to reduce the number of deaths and to prevent repetitive loss properties as well as to reduce public safety hazards.

"It's been a long time coming and a lot of hard work," Mitchell said. "We hope this finished product will do a lot of good for the city of Pascagoula."

The plan, for example, has mandates for elevating certain flood-prone areas and moving forward with other mitigation measures to reduce the overall impact of a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina.

With the plan's adoption, the city is now eligible to apply for state and federal grants help pay the costs to conform to the new requirements, such as the elevation of homes no longer outside of flood-prone areas.

In the same meeting, city leaders passed a resolution against a move by state lawmakers to have coastal cities enforce their flood and mitigation requirements.

Mitchell said the city's codes are much more stringent, with the city also requiring industry or businesses to conform to the new building codes.

"While this bill might be a good start for the statewide code, it actually lessens the standards currently in use within the city," Mitchell said. "The exemption of these buildings leaves the buildings and occupants vulnerable to hazards such as fire, wind, and flood."