Flood Recovery Meeting Follow-up

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I want to thank everyone that attended the community meeting on Thursday evening, June 9, that dealt with the recovery effort from the April 28 torrential rains and flash flooding. As I stated at the beginning of the meeting, we don’t have all of the answers to fix everyone’s problems, especially since FEMA has denied individual assistance, but we want to make sure the community is informed of all possible assistance that is currently available or coming very soon. This newsletter contains information that was shared at that meeting and more. It continues the conversation that will be necessary for us to recover and do what we can to diminish flooding from future rain events. I am confident in our community’s proven track record to overcome disasters…we will do it again.

SBA Loans

The SBA will be at the Orange Grove Community Center starting at 11 a.m., Tuesday, June 14 through 4 p.m., Thursday, June 23. Their hours will be 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. during the work week, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturday, closed on Sunday. Long-term Recovery and Volunteer Coordinators from MEMA will also be on hand. Regardless of whether or not you have applied for SBA loan assistance or if you have applied online and been denied, please go in person to meet with the SBA personnel. Even if the SBA denies you, they will turn you over to a caseworker to coordinate your recovery through any grants that may become available and volunteer assistance through nonprofit organizations.

SBA’s press release regarding standing up a presence in our area regarding this storm is linked in the following document.

June 9 16-373 MS 14738 SBA Offers Disaster Assistance – Harrison County by rleeflowers

Additional information regarding the disaster and the types of assistance that SBA is making available can be found in this linked document.

MS 14738 Fact Sheet by rleeflowers

 

Grants

There are very limited grants available for low income families through Community Development Block Grants that the City receives from the federal government. If you believe that you qualify for low income assistance, please contact Karen McCarty, Federal Grants Administrator for the City of Gulfport, during normal business hours at (228) 868-5705 ext. 6545.

 

Help from Nonprofit/Volunteer Agencies

As I stated earlier, MEMA will have Long-term Recovery and Volunteer Coordinator support at the Orange Grove Community Center to coordinate with volunteer agencies that can help with various aspects of the recovery starting next Tuesday, June 14.

Also, the Catholic Charities Diocese of Biloxi is working with flood victims through their recovery programs. They can supply building material. For more information call (228)701-0555, visit their website http://www.catholiccharitiesbiloxi.org, and view the linked pamphlet below.

Catholic Charities Diocese of Biloxi Pamphlet by rleeflowers

 

Storm Drainage Plan

The City has experienced three flash floods from torrential rains since 2013. The map showing the damage to residential and commercial buildings is linked here.

RainEventDamage_051316 by rleeflowers

The ditch clearing plan that the City is operating under was last revised in 2002. I received a copy of it today. Needless to say, I believe that it is time to review and revise it. It shows large drainage channels that are important to move large amounts of water in areas that are now more developed but at that time were not deemed necessary to be included in a routine maintenance plan. The plan is linked here.

Storm Drainage System Maintenance Plan by rleeflowers

In the near future the City of Gulfport Engineering and Public Works departments will be contacting homeowners that live along drainage ditches seeking Right of Entry (ROE) permission to access drainage easements and clean ditches. I highly encourage everyone to do so when asked. One property owner not cooperating and granting the City permission can stall and kill a good project. This isn’t a theoretical problem. It happened in Orange Grove during my tenure in office. People that would have been helped by the project that was blocked flooded on April 28. It is imperative to have cooperation from landowners when the City asks for an ROE.

 

Flood Debris Pick-up

Waste Pro and Harrison County Utility Authority (HCUA) have already started picking up piles that were brought to their attention at the meeting. This is a direct result of the meeting.

If a pile of flood related storm debris has not been picked up, call Waste Pro at (228)818-5393 and press 2. If you feel that the Residential Customer Service Technician does not understand your concern, ask for Rachel. If Rachel cannot help you or Waste Pro does not respond in a timely manner, call HCUA directly at (228)818-5393.

HCUA manages the solid waste disposal contract for the entire County. The City of Gulfport does not manage this contract.

 

Questions about Building and Avoiding Shady Contractors

If you have questions about building codes or just need some expert advice. The City of Gulfport’s Building Code Department has former Seabees on staff that “Can Do!” They are available by phone and can come out and look at your issue. If you need them, call (228)868-5790.

Please only use licensed and bonded contractors. Unscrupulous contractors can make your suffering even worse. To verify that a contractor is licensed with the State of Mississippi Board of Contractors, visit http://www.msboc.us. Under the Navigation column on the left hand side of the webpage, select “Search Contractors.”

 

Effort to Waive Building Permit Fees

Due to a comment that a lady made last night about not being able to afford permit fees to our Director of Urban Development, the City is starting the process to waive building fees for people that are recovering from this flood event and were documented in the list that we collected immediately after the even. It will require City Council approval. We are trying to get the resolution written and on the next regularly scheduled meeting agenda on Tuesday, June 21. While this may be only a small portion of the cost for someone to recover from the storm, it is another step, however small, towards reaching the goal of full recovery. This effort was sparked because of the community’s participation, once again, proving that good things happen through open communication.

Let’s keep this conversation going; it’s producing results.

 

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