Council to re-visit flood elevations; other news and notes

Mayor A.J. Holloway on Tuesday will be asking the City Council to revisit one of the fundamental issues of the city’s on-going storm recovery – adopting FEMA’s proposed flood map to govern new construction.

Enacting the measure would increase the size of the flood zone in Biloxi and raise construction levels from 3 to 25 feet in some areas, while failing to pass the ordinance would jeopardize tens of millions of dollars in federal funds needed to rebuild public facilities and could see Biloxi property owners become ineligible for flood insurance or financial aid.

Holloway, who first brought up the issue to a reluctant council months ago, re-introduced the issue last week, after the city received a letter from FEMA advising the city of the penalties should the advisory base flood elevations, or so-called ABFEs, not be enacted promptly.

For more background on the issue, click here.

To hear FEMA’s methodology in determining flood elevations and identifying flood-prone areas in Biloxi and along the Gulf Coast, click here.

To see a map showing existing and proposed flood zones, click here.

To see a detailed flood zone map showing elevations, click here.

Elsewhere on the 14-item agenda

Mayor A.J. Holloway will be asking the City Council to approve the purchase of more than a quarter-million dollars worth of heavy equipment for use in the city’s Public Works Department.

The measure is one of 14 items on the council’s agenda for its 1:30 meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Beside the heavy equipment purchases, the council will face measures involving zoning issues involving residential cases on Lorraine Road and Beach Boulevard.

To see the complete agenda and available resolutions, click here.

Mardi Gras redux: A history-making event

Gulf Coast Carnival Association, which was responsible for the lion’s share of Biloxi’s hugely successful Mardi Gras parade Tuesday, managed to make history in its 99th year of carnival.

The parade itself, at more than 130 entries, was the largest in GCCA history.

For the first time in history, King D’Iberville and Queen Ixolib paraded past City Hall twice in the same parade, owing to an exuberant pace the first time around, and overlooking the annual toasting with Mayor A.J. Holloway and carnival sponsors. Holloway had police escort the floats back to City Hall once they completed the route.

And finally, with some of the 75,000 paradegoers oblivious of their proximity to the CSX railway, Biloxi Police Chief Bruce Dunagan says, four CSX trains were brought to a halt by vehicles being parked too closely to the railway, a dubious distinction to bring down the curtain on the 99th year of Biloxi carnival.

New street map, insiders guide published

Biloxi’s “Street Map & Insiders Guide,” a detailed street map and compendium of community information, was published in August 2005, a couple of weeks before Katrina, and the map became an unqualified hit with an unforeseen audience: visiting first reponders in the immediate wake of Hurricane Katrina.

With the supply of 18,000 long exhausted, the city has published a revised version of the Street Map & Insiders Guide, which will soon be available in Biloxi libraries and major hotels.

Says a note to readers of the free giude: “Major roadways and neighborhood streets shown on the street map are accurate – we’re getting the street signs up as quickly as we can – but information for the insiders guide section – details on museums, damaged historic sites etcetera – will be updated in a future publication… Consider this Street Map & Insiders Guide a roadmap for a work in progress.”

To see an online version of the map, and how it was updated to show the magnitude of destruction, click here.

News and notes

Webcasting: Bay Press Editor Gene Coleman becomes the new host of the weekly “City Desk” program, as longtime moderator Gary Michiels tends to duties with Public Radio in Mississippi. Among the issues this week: Mardi Gras redux and flood elevations. To listen, click here.

Help wanted: The City of Biloxi, which had a pre-Katrina municipal workforce of more than 750, will soon be launching a campaign to attract applicants for more than 107 vacant city positions. To see information on employment with the city, click here.

Popp’s is tops: The Popp’s Ferry Bridge reconstruction project — a $7.5-million, 100-day project that was completed in December 2005, nearly two months ahead of schedule — has received a state award for engineering excellence. Neel-Schaffer, the engineering firm on the job, and City Engineer Damon Torricelli picked up the award Wednesday in Jackson from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Mississippi. For background on the project, click here.