Katrina recovery expo set for coast in August

Published 6:08 pm Wednesday, July 26, 2006

People planning to rebuild in Hurricane Katrina-battered neighborhoods along the Mississippi Gulf Coast can quiz contractors and learn about construction standards during a free expo next month.

The Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal is sponsoring the Aug. 11-13 convention-style event at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi.

“We’re trying to give disaster victims the tools they need to make informed decisions about how they rebuild,” Gavin Smith, director of the recovery office, said this week.

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He said more than 150 vendors will set up booths and demonstrate ways to make buildings stronger and more storm-resistant, including by using hurricane straps or shutters. More than 20 contractors will show examples of buildings that could be used as temporary housing, or even as small-scale permanent housing, after people move out of government-issued trailers.

Nonprofit groups and government agencies also will be represented at the expo, giving the general public a chance to get information about building codes and other issues.

Katrina destroyed tens of thousands of homes and businesses when it blew ashore last Aug. 29. Statistics provided by the governor’s recovery office show 37,432 travel trailers or mobile homes were being used in Mississippi’s Katrina zone as of this past Friday. There were 101,000 people living in the temporary housing.

Since June 19, there have been 896 temporary housing units removed as people build or repair homes.

The governor’s recovery office said 1,143 building permits have been issued for the three coastal counties since November, with an average permit value of $150,374.

“The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is providing unique opportunities for renewal and development in Mississippi, unmatched in our state’s history,” Gov. Haley Barbour said in a flyer announcing the expo.

The event is set for 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 11 and 12 and noon-5 p.m. Aug. 13.

The expo takes place less than three weeks before the one-year anniversary of Katrina.

On the Net:

Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal: http://www.governorbarbour.com/recovery/expo/