By ANITA LEE – [email protected]
BILOXI — The first afternoon of an insurance forum in Biloxi focused on a fortified shoreline and stronger structures to reduce hurricane damage.
The forum, sponsored by the Mississippi Insurance Department, drew an audience of 285 that included representatives from the fields of insurance, construction, real estate, government, politics and banking.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said he is working with Gov. Haley Barbour to secure a $25-million grant that would assist property owners with home fortification. The mitigation study is being conducted by AIR Worldwide, a catastrophe risk-modeling company. It should be completed this fall.
The study will set out a premium discount structure for improvements that make homes less susceptible to hurricane damage.
Susan I. Rees of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reviewed that agency’s $1.01 billion plan to fortify the coastline through a variety of projects. They include property buyouts in high-hazard areas, restoration of the barrier islands and sand beach and reconstruction of the Bay St. Louis seawall.
Congress recently appropriated $479 million for the projects. The Corps study that underpins the work will be completed in only two years, breakneck speed for an agency that Rees said generally works on studies for 10 to 15 years.