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July 24, 2006

eNewsletter from the Governor's Office of Recovery and Renewal



Governor's Recovery Expo


In order to advance the rebuilding effort in a way that makes coastal Mississippi a better place to live, work and play than it was before Hurricane Katrina, Governor Haley Barbour is hosting the Governor's Recovery Expo.  It will serve as an important event for families, businesses, builders, nonprofits and government officials to come together and learn about the tools for rebuilding our future. 


The Expo will be a comprehensive, convention-style event for the public, encompassing all aspects of recovery and renewal for the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The public will be able to visit booths, view displays and observe demonstrations in the Mississippi Coast Coliseum. 


Presentations will be given covering recovery-related topics, including rebuilding safer and stronger, building codes, financial assistance for housing and business recovery, health care, historical building recovery, and identifying parcel floodplain elevations.


Outside, model houses will be on display for expo attendees to tour.  Exhibits will be set up by public and private organizations involved in rebuilding coastal Mississippi.


Expo features will include:

  • Model Housing Displays
  • Community Outreach
  • Employment Services
  • Local Recovery Plans
  • Town Hall Meetings
  • Federal and State Agencies
  • Product Demos
  • Business Recovery
  • Hurricane Preparedness
  • Nonprofit Assistance
  • Housing Finance Resources


Governor Barbour urges all Gulf Coast residents to attend this historic three-day event, which will present South Mississippians with the information and resources they need in order to recover from the worst natural disaster in our nation's history.


For updates on the Governor’s Recovery Expo, visit www.charlestonchronicle.net/recovery/expo


Homeowners Assistance Program

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson recently announced he is releasing $3 billion to the state of Mississippi to help thousands of homeowners in the state recover from Hurricane Katrina. Last April, HUD approved Mississippi’s plan that is part of $5 billion allocated in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to help the state in its long-term recovery efforts.


The release of funds means thousands of qualified homeowners in Mississippi will be receiving up to $150,000 to help them recover from Hurricane Katrina. The remaining $2 billion in CDBG funding will be made available to Mississippi once the State submits an amendment to its action plan for HUD’s review.


In addition to the Homeowners Assistance Program, $30,000 is available to help eligible homeowners defray the added costs associated with raising homes to meet new elevation requirements.  HUD also released $5 million for permitting and building inspectors for coastal counties.


Update on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal


Governor Barbour recently distributed an update to state legislators on the progress of recovery, rebuilding and renewal activities related to Hurricane Katrina.  The briefing included information encompassing all aspects of recovery.


To view the update, click here



Debris Removal Cost Share

Governor Barbour has announced that the state will pay 90 percent of non-federal costs for removal of dry debris remaining in areas stricken by Hurricane Katrina beginning July 1st. 


Traditionally, the state of Mississippi and local governments have split the non-federal share of debris removal costs on a 50/50 basis. Governor Barbour estimated his decision would save local governments about $4 million based on the amount of dry debris remaining.


“The unprecedented destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina has led to unprecedented decisions on such critical activities as debris removal,” Governor Barbour said.


He noted that President Bush approved four extensions of 100 percent federal payment for debris removal and authorized a 90/10 federal/non-federal split starting July 1, instead of the more typical 75/25 split. The President also authorized debris removal from private property and announced the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs to remove wet debris from the Mississippi Sound through May 15, 2007.


“Even though President Bush has generously reduced the non-federal cost-share, most of the remaining debris is in jurisdictions most impacted by lost tax revenue,” Governor Barbour said. “I hope substantially reducing the required local share will help them finish debris removal as quickly as possible and accelerate rebuilding.”


When all federal/non-federal cost sharing for debris removal is considered, the federal government will pay 90 percent, the state will pay 9 percent and local governments will pay 1 percent.


Social Services Block Grants

Governor Barbour recently announced the allocation of more than $86 million of social services block grant (SSBG) funds to be used primarily by four state agencies to help meet the needs of citizens affected by Hurricane Katrina. The four agencies receiving the bulk of the funds are the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) and the Department of Mental Health (DMH). Others entities that have applied for funding will be notified by mail.


These funds are part of the more than $128 million Mississippi received through a Supplemental Appropriation Bill for Katrina relief. The bill was approved by Congress, signed by the President of the United States, and appropriated to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. When the funds were appropriated to the state, Governor Haley Barbour designated DHS as the state agency responsible to receive and distribute hurricane monies.


Though the funds are primarily to be used by the previous four agencies, other state agencies will be considered if funding is available. Self-sufficiency, protection, maintenance and miscellaneous needs are the four broad categories that govern all service activities supported by SSBG funds. Only services existing prior to August 29, 2005 are eligible for restoration, and proposals will only be accepted to restore services or activities to pre-Katrina condition. Additional funds are still available for award. Funds must be liquidated by September 30, 2007. For more information, please call 601-359-4778 or go to http://www.mdhs.state.ms.us/rfp2.htm for an application.


Home Building Success Story


FEMA’s Best Practices and Case Studies Portfolio offers success stories about mitigation ideas, activities, and projects, including mitigation funding sources.  Below is the story of a Diamondhead couple who utilized hazard mitigation techniques from FEMA that saved their home during Katrina, even while everything around them was destroyed.


Diamondhead Home: A Mitigation Blueprint                

Diamondhead, Mississippi – Raymond J. Sheehy felt confident that mitigation measures would help keep his home safe when Hurricane Katrina (2005) hammered the Gulf Coast with 135-mile per hour (mph) winds. A retiree from the U.S. Air Force, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Hancock County Civil Defense Department, Mr. Sheehy knows firsthand the importance of enacting measures to prepare and protect lives and property before disaster strikes. “I track every storm from force of habit,” he said.

Mr. Sheehy and his wife Pat decided to build a new house and settle into retirement on the Gulf Coast. Aware that the area is highly vulnerable to coastal storms, they incorporated mitigation strategies into the construction of their home.

While deployed by FEMA to American Samoa in the South Pacific, Mr. Sheehy observed that only one of the 750 homes built to mitigation specifications was damaged when a 1991 storm hit the islands with hurricane-force winds. Construction of these homes was based on FEMA’s publication, “Home Builder’s Guide to Coastal Construction.“ “So I decided right then I wanted one of those books,” Mr. Sheehy said. Construction of the Sheehys’ mitigated home was completed in the spring of 1995.

There are several risk mitigation strategies incorporated into the couple’s home. The house is firmly anchored to the slab-on-grade foundation, and has reinforced laminated beams along the ceiling to enhance its structural integrity and to increase the roof’s anchoring capability. The roof was built with ¾-inch plywood attached to trusses placed 16-inches apart, rather than the usual 20-inches. Few windows were placed on the southeast side of the house, the direction from which powerful hurricane winds usually blow. Manual wooden shutters were installed on the other windows of the house. There is a pantry-like reinforced safe room in the middle of the house, stocked with emergency supplies. The attached patio area is partially enclosed to help reduce the impact of driving winds. Mr. Sheehy conducts weekly tests of his generator to ensure that it is operating properly. He keeps an ample supply of gasoline and diesel fuel stored outside.

The couple decided to stay in their mitigated home during the storm. “The wind was blowing, trees were shaking and this house never moved. It never moved an inch,” noted Mr. Sheehy.

While Hurricane Katrina wiped out all power and water to area communities for 21 days, the Sheehys’ generator was up and running and their home was powered for the duration. Once the storm subsided, the couple did a thorough damage assessment of their property and found that their home remained mostly untouched. In contrast, other low-lying communities surrounding the Sheehys were demolished by Hurricane Katrina’s fierce winds and surging waters.


For more home building success stories from Hurricane Katrina, click here:



Local Websites


Several local governments are using their websites to provide updates to local citizens concerning rebuilding and recovery.  Residents can search these sites to find information on several topics, including beach openings, debris removal, renewal plans and city services. 


To view a listing of local government websites, click here: https://www.charlestonchronicle/Recovery/links/local/index.htm


Disaster Contractor Network


Residents and contractors are encouraged to use the Disaster Contractors Network website for their rebuilding needs.  The site can be used to connect with businesses and contractors offering professional services, materials and labor.  Contractors can register at the site to advertise their services to Gulf Coast residents and other contractors.


To visit the Disaster Contractors Network website, click here:



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