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March 13, 2006

eNewsletter from the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal


The Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal continues its work.  The office is currently involved in many facets of the recovery effort and shares the following update with information concerning its progress.


Recovery Workshops


Recovery Workshops were held for city and county officials in the six southern counties on February 21st-23rd.  During the workshops, local officials were given presentations from 22 state and federal agency representatives, who outlined their agency’s funding assistance, technical assistance and recovery policies.  The presentations covered a broad spectrum of recovery aspects relating to individuals and governments, such as housing, infrastructure, business, employment, mental health and the environment.


Leading the Renewal

Coastal communities continue to aggressively undertake the task of rebuilding and revival.  The cities of Gulfport, Pass Christian and Long Beach recently hosted planning charrettes to cultivate ideas for rebuilding their towns and neighborhoods, and Pascagoula and Biloxi recently created renaissance commissions to chart their city’s direction.


To read about the Gulfport charrette, click here:


To read about the Pass Christian charrette, click here:


To read about the Long Beach mini-charrette, click here:


To read about the Pascagoula Renaissance Commission, click here: 


To read about the Biloxi Reviving the Renaissance Steering Committee, click here:


Building Back Safer


Coastal communities are also showing a commitment to building back safer and stronger.  Hancock County recently adopted the International Building Code, and the following communities have adopted safer elevation requirements:


Bay St. Louis                    4-foot freeboard inside Special Flood Hazard Area
Waveland                         4-foot freeboard inside Special Flood Hazard Area
Harrison County               4-foot freeboard inside Special Flood Hazard Area
D’Iberville                          4-foot freeboard inside Special Flood Hazard Area
Long Beach                      3-foot freeboard inside Special Flood Hazard Area
                                         Advisory Base Flood Elevations outside the Special Flood Hazard Area
Jackson County               4-foot freeboard inside Special Flood Hazard Area
Moss Point                        Advisory Base Flood Elevations
Ocean Springs                 Advisory Base Flood Elevations plus 1-foot freeboard
Pascagoula                       Advisory Base Flood Elevations, effective June 1


ESF-14 (Long-Term Community Recovery)


The Office of Recovery and Renewal continues to work closely with FEMA’s Emergency Support Function 14 (ESF-14) to develop long-term community recovery plans, provide impacted communities with technical assistance and formulate implementation strategies for recovery projects. 


On March 17th, 23rd and 24th, the Office of Recovery and Renewal and ESF-14 will conduct work sessions with local governments to develop funding opportunities for potential recovery projects.  These work sessions will concentrate on grants and waivers that will expire on April 30th, 2006.  These include U.S. Department of Agriculture community grants and loans that can be used to build facilities and purchase equipment.

Dates and locations of the Potential Funding Work Sessions:


Harrison County             March 17, Harrison County Courthouse
Jackson County             March 23, Gautier Public Library
Hancock County            March 24, Hancock County Civic Complex, Bay St. Louis


Congressional Visit


Three of Mississippi’s Congressmen were among the 34-member congressional delegation that toured the Mississippi Gulf Coast and were briefed by Governor Haley Barbour and state officials on March 3rd.  Gavin Smith, director of the Office of Recovery and Renewal, briefed the delegation on transitional housing alternatives to travel trailers and mobile homes, including the “Katrina Cottage” developed as part of the Governor’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal.


The Governor discussed the potential of a modular housing pilot program in South Mississippi.  The pilot program would involve the construction of 20,000 transitional houses, which could be placed on a homeowner’s lot and lived in while the homeowner’s house is rebuilt.  Using this approach, the cottage could be expanded over time, resulting in a permanent home or remaining as a detached unit and used as temporary living quarters.


Homeowner’s Assistance Program


Mississippi Development Authority will begin implementation of Phase I of the Homeowner’s Assistance Program in the near future.  Phase I will help residents who had homeowner’s insurance at the time of the event and whose homes were located outside the floodplain and were flooded as a result of Hurricane Katrina.  Homeowners will be eligible for up to $150,000 to replace or repair their homes, and additional funds will be used to help offset the costs associated with rebuilding to the Advisory Base Flood Elevations and International Residential Code standards. 


For regular updates on the Homeowner’s Assistance Program, please visit the program’s website, www.mshomehelp.gov.


New Additions


The Office of Recovery and Renewal is pleased to announce the addition of two new field staff, Jennifer Biggy Schmidt and Ashley Edwards.


Jennifer comes to the Office of Recovery and Renewal with extensive political experience, having previously served as legislative director for Congressman Roger Wicker, and most recently as constituent liaison and grants coordinator for Congressman Geoff Davis of Kentucky.  Her husband, Harry Schmidt, is a lifelong resident of Biloxi.


Ashley is a resident of Pass Christian and a graduate of Tulane University.  After moving to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2003, he worked as a freelance journalist, publisher and media consultant, and he was a contributing writer for the book, August 29th: Katrina. 


Updates Needed


A note to city and county officials – please remember that our office is seeking information concerning your technical needs, budget and financial status.  This will help us as we seek the funds to help you bring on needed staff.  Please email this information to Brian Sanderson at .