Gulfport, MS -- If your home or business was damaged in Mississippi's recent tropical storm and resultant flooding, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommend that you take steps in rebuilding to minimize the harm that could come in a future flood.
FEMA offers free technical advice on construction and rebuilding techniques to make your property safer and less vulnerable to violent weather events including hurricanes and flooding, which are a threat in the state. In some cases, federal and state financial assistance may be available under FEMA's hazard mitigation program.
"As part of federal and state recovery efforts, FEMA and MEMA work closely with community leaders to help people find the best ways to stay safe and minimize damages from future disasters," said Michael Bolch, FEMA federal coordinating officer. "Safety, of course, is a primary goal of mitigation and it has proven to be cost effective."
Property owners in flood hazard areas are encouraged to consider elevating structures above expected flood levels, and to move furnaces, pumps, water heaters, circuit breakers and other essential equipment higher where possible.
When building or rebuilding, property owners should tie the foundation, wall and roof components together as a single unit for strength against destructive winds.
Mississippi is often a target of tornadoes as well. Fortified spaces called safe rooms that provide life-saving shelter from approaching storms should also be incorporated into the structure. Plans for such rooms in various types of structures are available from FEMA by calling 1-800-480-2520.
"Breaking the 'damage-reconstruction-damage' cycle is the goal of the state hazard mitigation program that is now incorporated into every disaster effort," said Mississippi State Coordinating Officer Leon Shaifer. "A few dollars spent now can result in thousands saved in the future."
Communities throughout Mississippi are becoming more disaster resistant with financial help from the state and FEMA. Additional funds, amounting to15 percent of a disaster's total spending, are available to a state for use with mitigation projects. Projects are cost-shared with 75 percent federally funded and 25 percent from non-federal sources.