Mississippi Governor Signs Bill Avoiding NFIP Non-Compliance for 75,000 Properties

Mississippi's governor signed a bill which avoided the possibility of 75,000 properties having to secure more expensive private insurance.

The problem stemmed from state-housing codes, which exempt hunting and fishing-camps from floodplain regulations. This conflicts with NFIP requirements, which mandate that all properties in floodplains be built to code.

Mississippi had asked the Federal Emergency Management Association for an exemption from the provision, but was turned down.

The issue developed last summer, when a lawyer for Coahoma County requested an opinion from Attorney General Jim Hood on whether building codes also applied to flood mitigation.

The lawyer pointed out that many such structures in the Delta are camps in name only, since they can be elegant and up to 15,000 square feet or larger.

Hood asked federal authorities in September to waive the federal requirements for camps, but his request was denied in late November. An administrator of the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration went further by saying unless the code is amended, “Mississippi communities would be suspended from the NFIP effective May 5, 2012.”

The state Legislature has passed legislation, H.B. 773, which effectively says a fishing or hunting camp will be treated like any other residence, according to state officials.

Gov. Phil Bryant, R, signed the bill on March 31. 

Under H.B. 773, existing camps are grandfathered in, but if they ever sustain more than 50 percent damage, the owner will be required to meet the new elevation requirements and codes when rebuilding.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the bill was not signed yet. In fact, Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill March 31.

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