What Gulf Coast Congressman Gene Taylor wanted the Easter Bunny to bring him.
South Mississippi Living 4/07

Friday, September 07, 2007

Hurricanes: It's time to look forward, not back

A report that "Katrina cottages," designed to take 150-miles-per-hour winds may not be able to withstand such pressure is prompting a second look at the structures - and should prompt more "second looks."

PBS&J Engineering, a Florida-based company hired to help manage the cottage program, is expected to inspect the structures this week, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

While the cottages are described as "a fantastic house," the foundations are said to lack some braces to prevent sliding in a strong storm and the Gulf Coast's soil requires a stronger anchoring system.

The questions regarding the "hurricane-proof" structures are apt now, with the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina having just passed. There has been much commentary about what has happened.

For example, there have been unfair comparisons of federal funding to Mississippi versus Louisiana, see's StoryChat item:

But, the first two Atlantic hurricanes this season reached the highest Category 5 level, the first time that's happened since record-keeping began in 1851, and just passed the Coast to go to Mexico.

They should serve as a warning of how prepared Mississippi is for a hurricane.

Ensuring that the Katrina cottages, a two-year alternative housing pilot program, be able to withstand winds of up to 150 mph, the same of a Category 4 hurricane, falls within the "looking forward" category.

So does the announcement this week that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will move hurricane victims who have health concerns about their travel trailers and mobile homes to hotels and motels.

FEMA must have emergency plans ready, including housing, if another disaster occurs.

Congress should also be moving along the lines that 4th District U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Bay St. Louis, has suggested to add wind coverage to the National Flood Insurance Program. At a town meeting at Pass Christian Aug. 13, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., pledged action.

Although Gov. Haley Barbour's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal in its report, After Katrina: Building Back Better Than Ever (, offered a tremendous blueprint in the storm's wake, building affordable housing for middle and low-income residents remains a paramount issue (in large part held up by the insurance quandary).

Hindsight should not obscure quick, prepared, preventive action. We can certainly learn from the past, but it's time to squarely face the future and take action now.

The Clarion Ledger published its opinion on September 7, 2007.

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