Mississippi No Longer Last In Storm Fortified Homes

BILOXI, MS (AP) — Mississippi has moved off the bottom of another list.

         "Three states — Virginia, Maryland and Mississippi — have taken excellent steps to further strengthen code protections for their residents," an Institute for Business & Home Safety report shows.

         Out of a possible score of 100, Mississippi received 28 points, compared with 26 for Alabama and 17 for Delaware.

         The highest-ranked states were Virginia with 95 points, Florida with 94 and South Carolina with 92.

         The report was released Wednesday.

         The Sun Herald’s Anita Lee reports that the IBHS, sponsored by the insurance industry, issues a report that ranks 18 hurricane-prone states on progress in strengthening residential building codes. Mississippi was last in 2012 but has moved on up to No. 16, trailed by Alabama and Delaware.

         The report noted the Mississippi Legislature in 2014 adopted statewide building codes after almost a decade of debate that followed Hurricane Katrina's devastation.

         Mississippi still scored low because counties were allowed to opt out of building-code adoption, and because there is no statewide training or licensing of building code officials. Training and licensing is important, IBHS CEO Julie Rochman said in a statement, for uniform enforcement of building codes adopted.

         Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said his department sets aside $500,000 a year for training, but it is not mandatory.

         The IBHS report also noted Mississippi requires licenses for general contractors, but not others in building trades.

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