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June 6, 2006

eNewsletter from the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal  



Home Builders Workshop


Opportunity was the central theme of the Home Builders Workshop hosted by the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal on May 24th in Biloxi.  Over 500 home builders from Mississippi and across the nation were briefed on housing development opportunities on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. 


Governor Haley Barbour, along with Office of Recovery and Renewal Director Gavin Smith and representatives from state agencies, gave presentations outlining factors that will help the home building industry more rapidly replace the homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.  Topics discussed at the workshop included funding streams available to homeowners, policies affecting housing construction, housing needs and funding sources. 


Home builders can view workshop materials by clicking on the “Links” section on the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal website, www.charlestonchronicle.net/recovery.  Information for home builders is also available in the “Home Builders” section on the site.  Contractors are encouraged to register with the Disaster Contractors Network to connect with homebuilders and other contractors.   


Recovery Fair


The Governor’s Recovery Expo has been scheduled for August 11th–13th at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Mississippi.  This event will provide an opportunity for citizens, local officials and developers to come together and learn more about the tools for building the region’s future.


The Expo will be a comprehensive, convention-style event, open to the public, encompassing all aspects of recovery and renewal for the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  The Expo will include both public and private entities that are involved in the rebuilding of coastal Mississippi.  Expo features will include product demonstrations, house strengthening seminars, housing displays, informational seminars and much more. 


Phase Two of Katrina Homeowner Grant Program


Mississippi Development Authority is wrapping-up final applications for the Katrina Homeowner Grant program that was authorized by the federal government and approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  As this program concludes, Governor Barbour is working with HUD to expand the program to provide assistance to homeowners whose homes flooded but were not eligible for the original program.


In an effort to design more effective housing assistance programs for Hurricane Katrina victims, Governor Barbour is asking low- and moderate-income homeowners who sustained flood damage to their homes due to Hurricane Katrina to register. 


“Our first Katrina Homeowner Grant program provides funds for those whose homes flooded despite being outside the flood zone, but we know there are many others whose homes flooded and still need help,” Governor Barbour said.  “We are asking these other homeowners to register in hopes a program can be designed to help as many of them as possible.  So, please register.”


For more information on the Katrina Homeowner Grant program, click here


Construction Training Classes


Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC) is offering construction-related training designed to speed the rebuilding process after Hurricane Katrina.  The classes, offered tuition-free, are funded through National Emergency Grants and Pathways to Construction grants, provided by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.


MGCCC is partnering with the Twin Districts Workforce Area and the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation to offer Project Outreach, a 160-hour multi-craft training program.  The four-week class will teach individuals skills in carpentry, plumbing, masonry, drywall, electrical and painting so they can become employed with contractors and construction companies working in the area.


Project Retrain offers more specialized training that teaches individuals advanced skills in particular areas.  Courses currently offered include carpet installation and residential heating and air conditioning. 


For more information or to register for these programs, contact Dr. Beverly Clark, 228-896-2512.


MGCCC is also offering free classes to teach Spanish to construction professionals.  The 4-day construction Spanish training sessions were developed specifically for builders and contractors who hire and supervise Hispanic employees.


For more information on the Construction Spanish course, click here


Law Enforcement Grants


Governor Haley Barbour awards $58.25 million in federal law enforcement grants to Mississippi agencies.Governor Barbour recently awarded $58.25 million in federal grants to aid law enforcement and state agencies in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  This supplemental funding supports these agencies by putting more police on the streets with the necessary equipment, protects law enforcement officers from local budget pressures and adds prosecutors to our justice system.


“I am very grateful to our congressional delegation, President Bush and U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for their efforts to provide this funding for our state,” Governor Barbour said.  “These funds will help enable local law enforcement agencies, struggling in the aftermath of the hurricane, to meet new public safety demands while preparing for future disasters.  By improving public safety in these affected areas, Mississippi is continuing to build back bigger and better than ever.”


More than 60 local state governments and district attorney’s offices in 18 counties will receive a total of nearly $30 million to improve public safety.  In addition to directly supporting local governments, about $6 million of these funds will be used to fund a highway patrol training school, which will provide 50 new trained and equipped highway patrol officers for the state’s roads.  Another $1.5 million will be used to provide urgent upgrades to Mississippi’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System, and $17 million will be set aside to provide state support for an interoperable communications system for law enforcement and first responders.  Nearly $500,000 will be used to upgrade the search and rescue equipment of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, whose wildlife officers played a key role in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.


Hurricane Preparedness



With the arrival of the summer season in Mississippi also comes a season Mississippians aren’t as happy to see again.


Thursday, June 1st marked the arrival of hurricane season along the Gulf Coast.


And with many Mississippians still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, residents are being urged to put hurricane preparedness atop their list of priorities this summer.


“Katrina, the worst natural disaster in American history, taught many lessons,” Governor Barbour said at an event marking the start of his ‘Stay Alert. Stay Alive’ hurricane awareness campaign. “One of them is that even with all the information and assistance that is available, there really is no substitute for awareness and self-help, especially in the days before a hurricane is predicted to hit.”


The National Hurricane Center says that in the event of an approaching storm, one of the most important questions residents will have to ask themselves is, "Should I evacuate?"


If you are asked to evacuate, you should do so without delay. 


It is also important for you and your family to have a plan that makes you as safe as possible in your home.


Disaster prevention includes modifying your home to strengthen it against storms so that you can be as safe as possible. It also includes having the supplies on hand to weather the storm and survive its aftermath.  For information on protecting your home visit the Institute for Business and Home Safety website, www.ibhs.org.


Below are some hurricane preparedness suggestions from the National Hurricane Center’s website, www.nhc.noaa.gov. 


The National Hurricane Center notes that the suggestions below are only guides. You should always use common sense in your disaster prevention.


  • Develop a family plan - Your family's plan should be based on your vulnerability to the hurricane hazards. You should keep a written plan and share your plan with other friends or family.

  • Create a disaster supply kit - There are certain items you need to have regardless of where you ride out a hurricane, such as flashlights, non-perishable food, water, etc. The disaster supply kit is a useful tool whether you evacuate or stay in your home.

  • Secure your home - There are several things you can do to make your home more secure and able to withstand stronger storms.  It is important to complete these tasks well in advance of a storm’s landfall.


For more information on hurricane preparedness tips, please visit the National Hurricane Center’s website at www.nhc.noaa.gov, or FEMA’s Hurricane Season 2006 website at http://www.fema.gov/hazard/hurricane/hu_season.shtm.


Operation Playground


To address the vital need for safe places for Gulf Coast children to play and the lack of community gathering places, the national nonprofit organization KaBOOM! has introduced Operation Playground: Rebuilding Playgrounds; Restoring Childhoods, a new two-year initiative to build 100 playgrounds in Gulf Coast communities affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.   


KaBOOM! launched Operation Playground on December 17, 2005, as more than 600 volunteers spent a day constructing a new playground, landscaping and building picnic tables and benches in Bay St. Louis.  Since then, KaBOOM! and partners The Home Depot and Motorola have mobilized more than 1,500 volunteers for projects in Kiln, Waveland and Pass Christian, with special guests First Lady Laura Bush, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, Senator Harris Wofford, Federal Coordinator of Gulf Coast Rebuilding Donald Powell, Congressman Gene Taylor, The Home Depot Chairman, President and CEO Bob Nardelli, and NFL legends Brett Favre and Howie Long.      


Upcoming Operation Playground projects are planned in Biloxi, Gulfport, Moss Point, Pascagoula, and New Orleans.  In August, KaBOOM! and partners The Home Depot and Playworld Systems will build ten playgrounds in the Gulf Coast during the week of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina


Each KaBOOM! playground is designed by children and community members and built by local volunteers.  In addition to the new play structure, projects also include a number of other park enhancements such as picnic tables, benches, and landscaping.  In Pass Christian, residents donated pieces of broken pottery and china for mosaic stepping stones that now grace the park. 


In an effort to inspire others to contribute, a Mississippi donor has pledged $500,000 to support Operation Playground. Thanks to the $500,000 gift, donations to Operation Playground made before the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, will be matched dollar for dollar, raising up to $1 million for the initiative. 


For more information on Operation Playground or to donate, visit www.kaboom.org.


Building Code Enforcement Grants


The Mississippi Development Authority is administering a grant program to help coastal governments pay for additional code enforcement officials.  Hancock, Harrison, Jackson and Pearl River counties, and the cities they contain, are eligible for the $5 million grant program, which is funded by the Community Development Block Grant appropriated by Congress in December. 


The program will help communities build back stronger and safer by funding salaries, fringe benefits, travel and training for building code enforcement officials for one year.  Applications are due by June 16th. 


Local officials should contact Jimmy Ware (601-359-3179) at the Mississippi Development Authority for more information on the grant program. 


Ocean Springs Charrette


Ocean Springs recently hosted a charrette to develop ideas for improving the city’s waterfront.  The four-day session of intense design and planning ended with a town meeting, attended by over 200 residents who viewed presentations of the architects’ plans.


For more information on the charrette, click here.


“Green Building is Storm Resistant” Workshops and Tradeshow


The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is hosting the “Green Building is Storm Resistant” Workshop and Tradeshow on Tuesday, June 6th at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi.  This event will consist of identical four-hour workshops facilitated by the Sowing Green Collaborative and an ongoing technology fair. 


The workshops will show builders and contractors how to incorporate green building and storm resistant practices and products into construction projects.  The technology fair, which will be open to the public, will display storm resistant and green products.  The fair will include exhibits on stormwater, rainwater harvesting, energy, daylighting, insulated concrete forms, mold resistant insulation, passive technologies and survivability.


For more information on the workshop, click here.   


Office of Recovery and Renewal Website


Continue to visit the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal website, www.charlestonchronicle.net/recovery for the latest information and resources related to recovery.  


Recent additions include a section for home builders, daily headlines and links to the Disaster Contractors Network, which can be used by homeowners and contractors to find the resources they need.