More on the Ocean Springs Survey

Here is the Sun Herald story on the Ocean Springs survey. It adds some color not found in either the WLOX story or the Newswatch this Week Interview. I’ll add my own experience since Katrina is the loss of coastal residents is also the state’s loss as the overwhelming majority of re-locations which I am familiar involved moving to another state as borne out by resident Brigitte Bernhardt in the story.  Tennessee seems the destination of choice for those I know who have left.  The Sun Herald story:

Mayor Connie Moran said Friday that a survey of her city demonstrates how post-Hurricane Katrina insurance price increases, in some cases more than 200 percent, are financially crippling coastal residents and towns.

“We think both homeowners and businesses are getting the shaft by the increase in insurance costs on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and elsewhere,” she said.

The survey was sent to 8,930 addresses in Ocean Springs and adjoining subdivisions in the same area code. Moran said 1,607, or 18 percent, were returned and more than half included personal letters detailing how the increases have affected residents.

According to the survey, 12 percent of homeowners saw an average 255 percent increase in insurance costs, 18 percent saw a 67 to 100 percent increase and 57 percent saw lesser premium jumps.

Survey results showed that 20 percent of Ocean Springs residents plan to leave the Coast and 9 percent plan to build or buy north of Interstate 10. Of those planning to relocate, 79 percent cited cost of insurance as their reason.

Moran said since Ocean Springs has a higher elevation than much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the numbers should hold up as a conservative basis for private and government financial damage insurance rates are causing in the region.

“We know this is actually the best-case scenario,” she said.

Brigitte Bernhardt, 64, attended the news conference at which results were released. She said her home is outside the flood zone and took no water damage and minimal wind damage from Katrina, yet her insurance costs jumped more than $1,000.

She lost her husband and his retirement income last year, and said higher insurance has forced her to pay monthly premiums on credit cards while putting her house up for sale. Should it sell, she said, she’ll probably end up living in a mobile home somewhere in Florida.

“I would like to, if possible, stay here in Oceans Springs,” said Bernhardt, who teared up as she spoke. “I do like the city here and the small-town living, but who knows?”

Moran said the survey results will be sent to U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, in hopes he will pass it along to Mississippi’s senators to bolster “multiple peril” inclusion in the national flood insurance programs.

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