Underwater: County again considers options on flood damage to homes

Published 7:00 am Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors met Wednesday to find a solution concerning the homes damaged by flooding resulting from Hurricane Isaac in 2012.

County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said there are currently seven properties­—five in Picayune and two outside the city limits, which are considered a repetitive flood loss and at risk for future flood damage.

“We’ve been awarded MEMA’s hazard mitigation grant, but it requires the county to pay around $300,000 to buy these properties and the board is hesitant about that. So we’re trying to find a way to find a match up instead of using the cash,” Lumpkin said.

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Board Attorney Joe Montgomery explained the details of the grant. “When the grant was submitted, there was some language in there that indicated that the cost of the grant would be paid by the property owners deeding the property to the county and the county doing some demolition. The first time the question of whether or not the county can come up with any cash came when the grant was approved and they required that 25 percent of the appraised values be paid by the county,” Montgomery said. “When they closed out the grant, the county would only be reimbursed 75 percent of the appraised value of the property plus the demolition costs.”

Sandra Lee still lives inside one of the properties at risk located inside the White Sand community in Poplarville. After the meeting, Lee said she’s lived there for the past 37 years and has experienced around 10 floods.

“This last time we had 46 inches of water,” Lee said.

She said her home hasn’t been the same since.

“We were told not to go back to the house because there was black mold, very dangerous, but I had talked to people on the coast and they said they never gotten any of their money back and still haven’t,” Lee said.

So Lee and her family cleaned up the home themselves and repaired the damages.

Lumpkin said the board plans to work with the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District to find a solution to the problem.

Also at the meeting, County Engineer Les Dungan spoke about plans to renovate Liberty Road’s water park. A $100,000 Coastal Impact Assistance Program grant was awarded through the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources to renovate the park. Plans include installing a walking trail, a primitive camping area, a parking area, picnic tables and barbecue grills, Dungan said.

“They gave us a deadline of Aug. 16 of 2016 to be complete with the expenditures of that grant,” Dungan said.

They plan to prepare contract documents and get pricing for the renovations, which will focus mainly on the north side of the property. Dungan hopes to move forward with pricing by the end of the year, which he said will give them about eight months to implement the new fixtures.

In other action:

— The board held a public hearing to discuss abandoning Bennie Lumpkin Road in Poplarville. No one in attendance addressed any concerns during the hearing so the board approved a motion to abandon the road.

—Paige Kennedy, with the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District, gave updates about their services, which assist 15 counties and 38 municipal governments across the southern region of Mississippi. Kennedy said they plan to set aside $1 million to loan to municipalities and counties, with a limited loan amount of $175,000, payable over five years. “If Pearl River County ever needs our assistance, you all give us a call and we’ll help you as best as we can,” Kennedy said. She also thanked the community for assisting with their Elderly and Disabled Waiver program. Currently, SMPDD designates 220 slots within the county for the program. Kennedy said they’re now serving 223 people in the county, with six on the waiting list. The program provides community-based and home services to adults.

—The board approved travel for employees with the county and youth court to attend a seminar in Bay St. Louis from Sept. 23 to 25.

—The board approved travel for employees with the coroner’s office to attend a mass fatalities course in Wiggins on Sept. 29.

—The board approved travel for the veterans’ service officer to attend a quarterly meeting in Biloxi on Sept. 24.

—The board approved travel for the planning office and supervisor to attend the AFMM Association of Floodplain Conference in Philadelphia from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2.

—The board approved travel for law enforcement dispatchers to attend a trans. disaster course in Moss Point from Sept. 28 to 29, approved travel for them to attend a domestic violence course in Gulfport on Oct. 28 and approved travel for them to attend a suicide calls course in Gulfport on Oct. 29.

The next board meeting will be on Oct. 5 at 9 a.m. inside the court facilities in Poplarville.