Officials urge floodplain law change

By The Associated Press

PASCAGOULA – Pascagoula officials are asking lawmakers to amend a state law and allow local governments to enforce federal floodplain codes at hunting and fishing camps so they can qualify for the National Flood Insurance Program.
City attorney Eddie Williams said the change is required because the state’s exemption on such properties from meeting flood code conflicts with federal law that requires all properties in floodplains to build to code.
FEMA recently turned down a request from the state for a waiver for such property.
The National Flood Insurance Act makes noncompliant hunting and fishing camps ineligible to purchase federal flood insurance.
FEMA officials have said that if the state wants its participation in NFIP, then the Legislature must change the law. If nothing is done, FEMA said Mississippi communities would be suspended from the NFIP effective on May 5, 2012.
Pascagoula operations manager Steve Mitchell said a state law passed in 2006, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, made adoption and enforcement of the international building codes mandatory for the lower six Mississippi counties.
The issue emerged over the summer when many hunting and fishing camps flood in the Mississippi Delta.
FEMA requires that all structures located in certain flood prone areas must be elevated over the base flood elevation, or the 100 year flood plain. FEMA said there will be no exceptions.
Mitchell said that amending the law to require such will prompt camps to either become extinct or be redefined.