Around the GO Zone in 60 seconds: The Commish Speaks, Brownies, Jindal and The Shed

Mr CLS gave us the heads up on Monday’s insurance conference in New Orleans attended by several gulf coast insurance commissioners and members of Congress including Dollar Bill Jefferson. Rebecca Mowbray covered the event for the Times Picayune:

Catastrophic flooding and levee breaches in Iowa could help Louisiana make its case that the federal government needs to make serious investments in infrastructure, U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon said at a forum on coastal insurance issues Monday.

“I look forward to seeing how many people in the Midwest will be interested in the issues we’ve been discussing,” Melancon, D-Napoleonville, told a gathering of 200 at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans. “As we go forward, we need to invest in our infrastructure.” Melancon represents many coastal parishes.

The Insurability of the Coast forum, sponsored by the America’s Wetland Foundation, the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, the LSU Agricultural Center and the Louisiana Department of Insurance, sought to draw the connection between the strength of Louisiana’s coast and housing stock and the long-term prospects for its insurance market. The daylong forum explored insurance, land use, hazard mitigation and public policy issues.

“Whether we like it or not, nothing gets built without insurance,” said King Milling, a banker who is the chairman of the wetland foundation. “Insurability not only dictates how we build, but where we build.”

U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, said that the issues of availability and affordability of insurance on the coast has gotten Congress’ attention because so many federal programs carry insurance requirements. With so many people unable to get what they need, Jefferson predicts that the federal government will play a bigger role in insurance going forward. “I do believe there’s an opportunity for a greater partnership between state regulators and us.”

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said that very few houses in Mississippi have been built within 2,000 feet of the coast because people took the destruction of the 2004 and 2005 storms seriously. “It’s not about the scenic view. It’s about working people,” he said.

The story continues:

In Florida, officials have undertaken an ambitious effort to encourage people to fortify their homes against hurricanes. Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said that the Florida Legislature created a $250 million program called My Safe Florida Home that includes education, home inspections and grants. So far, some 200,000 homes have been inspected and graded for storm-worthiness, and 15,000 homes have been upgraded.

At the same time, Florida also required insurers to offer discounts for hazard mitigation, and when the program was launched 20 percent of the homeowners in the state found that they were eligible for discounts without even doing anything, McCarty said.

Insurance companies in Louisiana are required to file discounts by the end of the year. Chaney said Mississippi is having trouble getting insurers to do so voluntarily and his state also needs to focus on training contractors in effective storm-mitigation techniques.

Next up we follow Bobby Jindal to DC and the halls of Congress where he is lobbying furiously to keep important Louisiana Hurricane relief projects funded:

Democratic leaders are mulling whether to cut the hurricane assistance because President Bush has said he would veto the bill if domestic spending in it is not trimmed. Democrats have said they don’t have the votes to override a presidential veto, and are trying to accede to Bush demands to keep the emergency spending bill close to $184 billion.

Jindal has said he hopes the House and the Bush administration will accept at least some of the additional hurricane-related spending in the Senate bill. He said the administration can take some steps on its own, including granting longer repayment options on levee construction permitted under the 1986 water resources bill, or helping Louisiana hospitals with financing shortfalls by increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates to reflect higher post-hurricane costs for hiring nurses, doctors and other personnel.

Now we get on I-10 and travel over to the coast for an opening day report on the brown shrimp season from the Sun Herald:

Record-high fuel prices didn’t appear to prevent many boaters from trawling the Mississippi waters for the official start of shrimp season Tuesday, the Department of Marine Resources said. 

DMR officials report 308 recreational and commercial boats worked opening day. That is about equal to last year’s total and that of 2006.

Fishermen were landing 40/50-count brown shrimp in isolated pockets inside of Horn Island and the west end of Petit Bois. The “count” means how many shrimp of that size it takes to equal a pound.

DMR officials reported average shrimp sizes and catch volumes Tuesday, and Lisa Jones with public affairs said, “the outlook remains good for the rest of the season.”

Comparing this year to 2007 and 2006 is somewhat misleading as so many shrimpers lost their boats to Katrina. The story continues with a quote from an older salt:

But one veteran fishermen said the number of boats shrimping the choppy waters was about as bad as he’s ever seen.

“No boats nowhere,” said Pass Christian’s Percy Bradley, who’s been shrimping since 1973. He landed 50/60-count shrimp near Cat Island.

A majority of boats fished inside Horn Island and the west end of Petit Bois, DMR said. Other boats were working around Cat Island and West Ship Island.

“With the high cost of fuel, many fishermen decided to wait until they had more information on how the season would be,” said DMR’s Shrimp and Crab Bureau Director Traci Floyd.

The cost of gas so high and price of shrimp so low makes it tough for commercial shrimp processor George Phillips to be optimistic this shrimp season.

“You got to catch a lot of shrimp to cover your fuel,” the manager of R.A. Lesso said. “Fuel is so high, (fishermen) can’t afford to go out.”

Nowdy there is always Ly Le…

Finally we head up Highway 49 to Highway 53 and the grand opening of The Shed’s second location. Given the buzz I’m hearing I suspect this second location will be wildly popular. Justin Hooks has the report for the Sun Herald:

Starting today, residents don’t need to drive to Jackson County to get a heaping helping of barbecue and blues.

The Shed Barbeque and Blues Joint opens its first franchise today in Lyman, one mile west of U.S. 49 on Mississippi 53, on five acres of land previously held by Smiley Tubb’s Marine and Repair.

Allyson Brewer of Gulfport is the principal franchisee. Brewer is the former accounting manager for the Gulfport-based law firm of Davis and Feder. Brewer is a self-proclaimed “dumpster diver” and bona fide “ShedHead.” She admits the last few months have been hectic, but she’s glad the joint is finally open.

“I’m really excited,” Brewer said. “This is the community’s Shed. This is something they’ve needed for a long time. Good family entertainment. There’s no barbecue joint like this that represents that true Delta funk feeling.”

In keeping with The Shed’s sense of style, the restaurant has served as a repository for antiques of all kinds from as far away as Memphis. Even the old bleachers at the Perkinston campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College have been used in the construction. The joint will also serve as a live music venue.

2 thoughts on “Around the GO Zone in 60 seconds: The Commish Speaks, Brownies, Jindal and The Shed”

  1. Sop, I’ve been following the contrast in the Mid-west flood and the flooding (not flood) following Katrina. There’s so much that it really needs to be a series anyway – and since your mention of the comments in Monday’s meeting opens the door, I’ll invite myself in and come back shortly with part one.

    Hold the shrimp for later!

  2. I’m pleased to report I passed the Shed twice today and it was packed on both occasions. I also passed by Ly Le and her shrimp looked delicious. 🙂

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