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Mississippi Ranks Worst for Hurricane-Resistant Building Rules

By Rhonda Miller | Published 26 Jun 2012 08:03pm | comments
Photo credit: Institute for Business and Home Safety, "Building Codes: Rating the States" report

Mississippi ranks worst among 18 states for regulations that make homes storm-resistant, according to a recent study.  But MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports officials in the Magnolia State say many homes are already being built to survive strong winds and high water.

"...still some wind, still the chance of some storms, but we’re out of the woods as far as Debby is concerned in those areas."

It’s early in hurricane season, but tropical storms like Debby are a reminder it’s time to batten down the hatches on the house.

"The roof should be strapped to the top of the walls. The walls should be strapped to each other. " Julie Rochman is president of the Institute for Business and Home Safety.  "The house itself should be strapped or tied down to the foundation."

Rochman heads the institute that gave Mississippi four points out of a possible 100.  That’s based on not having a statewide building code or officials certified to enforce a code. Florida and Virginia tied for first place with 95 points.

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney says the state's ranking is meaningless because building codes are mandated in five of the lower six counties, and in 27 percent of the rest of the state, mostly the cities.

"We are going to ask the Legislature to make statewide building codes mandatory, but allow cities and counties that have not adopted any code to still opt out. If you have a code already, then you couldn't go down, but you could stay where you were."

State Representative David Baria represents the southern part of Hancock County, including the coastal cities of Waveland and Bay St. Louis. Baria supports a statewide building code, but says he understands why it hasn’t happened yet.

"We are a very rural state and folks out in the countryside have been resistant to building codes in the past. I can assume people live out in the country because they don’t like to live in the city where all the houses look the same or similar and they don’t like being told what to do."

The Mississippi Building Code Council has to submit recommendations for a statewide mandatory building code to members of the Legislature by December first. The Legislature will consider the recommendations during the 2013 session.



Photo credit: Institute for Business and Home Safety, "Building Codes: Rating the States" report



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