Cut-off residents urged to follow procedures for repairs
Any Tunica Cut-off resident who starts repairs without a permit risks arrest and a $500 per day fine, says county planner Pepper Bradford.
That’s because any repairs to a building in one of the four lakeside camps jeopardizes federal funds to the county and to individuals affected by May’s Mississippi River flood.
“This is a big deal,” Bradford said. “We have to enforce our ordinances.”
Bradford said planning department staffers are out daily to guard against anyone unknowingly or knowingly violating the law.
“If we find anyone who has even put one nail in, we will have them arrested – and repeatedly arrested – until they stop,” he added.
The first batch of reports from FEMA housing inspectors has landed on Bradford’s desk, and the news is not good. Of 68 homes inspected at Nel-Win Camp, only four were found not to be substantially damaged.
Bradford said the owners of those four homes could pull a permit now and begin making repairs. The process for the other 64 won’t be as easy.
“The rest must tear down what’s there and build new or raise up what’s there to the 206.5 foot base elevation and then repair it,” Bradford explained.
Either way, any structure that replaces a home deemed substantially damaged must now be raised, surveyed and verified at 206.5 feet or above.
Software provided by FEMA and now being used by the county assigns a cash value based on the size of the home, and if a mobile home, based on manufacturing cost as supplied by state mobile home manufacturers, Bradford said. Planners had previously been using the tax valuation only. The software also computes damages based on regional costs for material and labor.
Homeowners may supply their own appraisals showing market value, but these appraisals must be obtained from a certified appraiser. Right now, only one area appraiser is willing to go into the Cut-off camps, Bradford said.
A detailed estimate of repairs signed by Mississippi-licensed contractors may also be submitted as a substitute to the FEMA-generated estimate.
More bad news for those with substantially damaged homes is that repairs must be in compliance with both the county floodplain ordinance and current county building codes.
“Pre-1980 mobile homes just won’t comply,” Bradford said, citing standards for windows and other structural components.
Bradford expects FEMA inspections at the Cut-off to be completed this week; he should have more reports on his desk by the end of this week.
A curfew and checkpoints restricting access to the camps are still in place at presstime Wednesday, but are expected to be lifted in a few days. State officials opened fishing and boating on Tunica Cut-off and Lakeview in DeSoto County on June 3, but Moon Lake in Coahoma County remains closes until water recedes to a safe level.