Council discusses variety of issues

Published 3:27 pm Thursday, September 20, 2012

City officials are still working with state and federal emergency agencies to apply for reimbursement assistance associated with expenses incurred after Hurricane Isaac.

Fire Chief Keith Brown said so far it still looks as if the Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering only 75 percent reimbursement to municipalities, while the state will reimburse cities for 12.5 percent of their remaining expense.

That will leave each city in a declared disaster area, Pearl River County included, to absorb the remaining 12.5 percent of any expenses associated with the response or cleanup after the storm.

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Any city resident who has not done so yet is urged to apply for individual federal and state assistance at a Disaster Recovery Center. The nearest one is located at the National Guard Armory near Friendship Park.

Brown said right now the priority of those agencies is to provide affected residents with rental assistance. Mayor Ed Pinero Jr., said preliminary counts show 106 homes in the city limits of Picayune flooded, mostly in the Westchester subdivision (76 homes) and on the east side of the city on roads including Washington, Abrams, Roosevelt and Loftin avenues (30 homes).

A count of homes in the entire county is under way to arrive at a total number of homes flooded from the storm, Pinero said.

Council member Larry Watkins asked if the federal or state emergency agencies were considering buy-out options for homes that flood repeatedly. Pinero said he has not heard of any such option. Also, the agencies are still discussing the possibility of providing temporary housing in the form of mobile homes, but nothing solid has been announced, the mayor said.

With the mosquito population boom after the flooding, council member Wayne Gouguet asked what kind of action is being taken in the city to reduce their numbers. City manager Jim Luke said city crews are spraying about 5 times per week. Gouguet suggested increasing spraying to seven days a week. Luke said he will look into that possibility.

Council member Larry Breland announced that an insurance scam being received by city residents through the mail, promising water service line coverage. Residents have received letters claiming to offer insurance on repairs and maintenance to fresh water lines to homes. Breland urges residents to recognize these letters as an attempt to scam money from them.

The fine print on the letter states the coverage is β€œfor the repair of an emergency breakdown of the exterior water service line… caused by normal wear and tear, not due to accident or negligence.”

In other business the council;

β€” Approved a special use permit for El Vaquero Bar and Grill to sell malt beverages (beer) less than 8 percent and light wine less than 5 percent.

β€” Tabled the adoption of an ordinance regarding conduct of fortune telling, tattoo or body piercing businesses.

The next meeting of the council will be Oct. 2, at 5 p.m.