BILOXI, Miss. -- As the work to clean up beaches, waterways and the Mississippi Sound continues, four of 16 projects are finished and two others are nearing completion. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which heads the multi-agency effort with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and other partners, is moving forward with ten other projects.
Of the $230 million allocated for Mississippi’s marine debris removal, $222 million is part of an intra-agency agreement that began October 1, 2006. So far approximately $8.5 million has been spent on the four completed projects.
Three of the four completed projects were initial test sites for the marine debris removal initiative: Enger Street in Jackson County, Henderson Point in Harrison County, and Jordan River Isles in Hancock County. The fourth completed site includes the Pearlington area and the Pearl River.
In the three coastal counties, contractors are putting the finishing touches on two additional projects. One cleaned beaches from mean high tide to one-half mile into the Mississippi Sound and the other cleared inland waterways north of Interstate 10. More than 13,000 cubic yards of debris has been removed in the coastal project and another 15,800 from the inland project. The anticipated costs of these two projects total around $7.5 million.
“No other hurricane before Katrina left so much marine debris,” said Jeff Byard, acting director of the Mississippi Transitional Recovery Office. “FEMA, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the Coast Guard, Mississippi’s Marine Resources and other partners have broken ground in developing ways to work together to identify hazards and remove them safely.”
“Working together, we are making a lot of progress,” said Mike Womack, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. “We still have a long way to go, but we’re moving away from cleaning up and much closer to rebuilding along the Coast.”
A separate project to clean up the Mississippi Sound from one-half mile out to four miles out is tentatively scheduled to begin late-February. The contract for cleaning debris from Bayou Caddy, Heron Bay, Lakeshore, Bayou Phillip, and Four Dollar Bayou in Hancock County was recently awarded.
Eight other projects are in progress, but are yet to be bid out. Three are in Harrison County, three in Jackson County, and two in Hancock County.
More than 54,000 cubic yards of debris have come out of the water since marine cleanup began last September. Funding for the marine debris removal projects is 100 percent federally funded until May 15, 2007.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.