FEMA releases advisory flood maps

FEMA today released a series of high-resolution maps that detail Hurricane Katrina flooding and provide data intended to help local leaders enact building codes that will minimize the risk of flooding.

The maps, which FEMA hopes local governments will eventually adopt, would be used to create the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps, which have not been updated since the 1980s. The FIRM maps help set flood insurance rates, which are regulated by the federal government.

In fact, Biloxi homeowners have seen a 15 percent decrease in flood insurance rates over the past several years because of the city’s flood-prevention efforts.

Communities that decide not to use the final maps will be dropped from the National Flood Insurance Program.

To see the FEMA maps for the Mississippi Gulf Coast, click here.

Firefighters battle east Biloxi house fires

Biloxi Fire Chief David Roberts said this afternoon that a space heater and smoking material sparked east Biloxi house fires that engulfed three structures.

In the first incident, firefighters responded to Dorries Street, where a house fire spread to two other homes that winds from Hurricane Katrina had pushed side-by-side. Shortly after responding to that call, firefighters were called to a home on Copp Street, where a space heater ignited a blaze.

The incidents, Roberts said, occurred slightly before and after the department’s 7:45 a.m. shift change, “so we actually had two shifts able to respond to these incidents.”

No injuries were reported.

On Wednesday, the fire department’s Fire Prevention Division had issued a wintertime safety advisory, cautioning residents that space heaters were the No. 1 cause of house fires this time of year.

To see the advisory, clicking here.