Thursday, September 28, 2006

School Funding

10/10 From Gary
The Sea Coast Echo reports that the Hancock County School Board voted unanimously Thursday evening to evict a FEMA trailer park from school-owned property at the former site of Gulfview Elementary.
Since last October, nearly 100 trailers have been housed at the site, and hundreds of displaced residents are living in the park. The agreement with FEMA to house the trailers was made in the confusing days after the storm when housing for hurricane victims was critically needed. A county official signed the right-of-entry to the property under an emergency declaration, and FEMA soon moved the trailers onto the property. The school board contends, it never signed a lease with FEMA and the trailers are hindering the school districts rebuilding plans. As to where to put the residents in the park, that will have to be worked out.

Found on Katrina's Angels Newsgroup:

BILOXI, Miss. -- Of the $8.9 billion* in federal disaster grants awarded to Mississippi in its recovery from Hurricane Katrina, nearly $176 million has been obligated for public and parochial school repair and construction in Mississippi's three coastal counties.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the breakdown of grants to date in those counties is as follows: Hancock County, $48.9 million; Harrison County, $61.1 million; Jackson County, $44.3 million; and $21.4 million to schools in the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi.
The grants are part of FEMA's Public Assistance program, which provides financial assistance to state and local governments and certain non-profit organizations for disaster-related cleanup and rebuilding efforts. The grants help rebuild or restore buildings and infrastructure to pre-Katrina condition. While these grants are aimed at governments and organizations, their primary goal is to help a community and all its citizens recover from devastating natural disasters.
FEMA continues to work closely with applicants, local and state organizations and voluntary agencies in rebuilding Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. Grants are being approved and disbursed through the following programs:
More than $1.2 billion to individuals and families:
216,280 individuals and families have been approved for Housing Assistance totaling about $840 million;
133,699 Mississippi Katrina survivors have been approved for $409 million in Other Needs Assistance.
More than $1 billion has been approved in the following Public Assistance categories (not including debris removal). To date, Mississippi has disbursed $782 million to public assistance applicants for rebuilding projects including bridges, public buildings and utilities. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) administers the funds.
$309 million for emergency protective measures;
$327 million to repair public facilities;
$288 million to restore public utilities;
$53 million to restore public recreational facilities such as state parks;
$25 million to repair roads and bridges; and
$1.6 million to repair water control devices such as reservoirs and irrigation channels.
About $1.3 billion has been approved for land-based debris removal.
About $231 million will be disbursed for marine debris removal:
Nearly 45 million cubic yards of eligible land-based debris has been removed from public and private property in 79 of 82 counties; FEMA has given a six-month extension for the removal of debris in the inundated areas of the three coastal counties; there are approximately 790,750 cubic yards of debris remaining in that surge area;
The U.S. Coast Guard has cleared 23,749 cubic yards or about two percent of marine debris. Marine debris removal will be 100 percent federally funded until May 15, 2007. Other assistance:
More than $2.4 billion was paid by FEMA through its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to 17,013 policy holders;
Nearly $3 billion* was paid by FEMA to other federal agencies to complete specific tasks or mission assignments during response and recovery such as emergency medical assistance and debris removal;
Nearly 35,000 FEMA-provided temporary housing units are currently occupied.
In addition, about $2.6 billion in U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans have been approved for Mississippians:
More than $2 billion in loans to 30,880 homeowners and renters;
More than $517 million to 4,279 businesses;
About $18.7 million to 325 small business owners for working capital.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program.
FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.
Last Modified: Friday, 22-Sep-2006 10:07:17

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Favre Suggests Consolidation

Favre urges merging permit departments
BAY ST. LOUIS - Among a crowd that spilled outside Tuesday night, two contractors stood up to defend embattled building official Bill Carrigee on his final day as head of the city's permit department.
Local contractor Mike Bell blasted Councilman Jim Thriffiley, accusing the state's longest concurrently serving councilman of "running Bill Carrigee out of town."
"Regardless of what people think of Mr. Carrigee," Bell said, "he was still an asset to this city."
Carrigee officially resigned Tuesday, ending more than a decade as the city's top building inspector just three days after published reports that Hancock County recently paid him $389,474 for work his company was doing for the county on the side.
"Mr. Carrigee's decision to resign was his decision, no one on this board made him leave," Thriffiley said. "The city has spent tens of thousands of dollars educating him and he chose to leave on his own."
Carrigee had become one of the most qualified building officials in Mississippi. He was the 59th person in the nation certified as a floodplain manager and much of his education was funded by the city.
Carrigee told the Sun Herald last week he did not moonlight on city time, nor did he use a city vehicle. Thriffiley said residents have complained for months about the sluggish process of getting a building permit.
"People have asked me how he could be working for us and still be doing all this work for the county," Thriffiley said.
Since Katrina damaged or destroyed more than half of the city's homes, locals cram into the short-staffed building department almost daily seeking approval to rebuild. The department has issued more than 15,000 permits since the storm, far more than double what it turned out last year.
Mayor Eddie Favre read from a prepared statement, addressing what he called an "unsubstantiated attack on the credibility of city employees."
"For those who have been on a mission of encouraging the resignation of Bill Carrigee," Favre said, "you have finally succeeded."
Favre said the "real losers in this situation" are the city's residents and he pleaded with the council to refocus its efforts on rebuilding Bay St. Louis.
Favre said Carrigee has offered his company's services to the city on a contract basis, at a rate of $28 per hour. The mayor suggested the council push to merge the building department with the offices in the county and Waveland as a way to fill the void.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Animal Crisis Occuring

12/22 An accurate view of the Coast, not just NOLA

The Associated Press
Hancock County has stopped providing funds to the Waveland Animal Shelter after learning the shelter had refused to accept stray animals collected by the county, officials said.
The shelter has been funded mostly through a joint effort between Waveland, Bay St. Louis and Hancock County, but the Hancock Board of Supervisors recently voted to stop providing its portion of the money.
Last week, supervisors began a search for available land to build a shelter.
"We're not going to pay for something that we can't use," Supervisor Lisa Cowand said.
County officials said the shelter has been declared a no-kill shelter, meaning animals are held for months while waiting to be adopted or transported to other shelters throughout the country.
Shelter director Renee Lick said the facility is not a no-kill shelter, but she conceded there have been times when the shelter was full and could not accept county animals.
"Yes, there have been some times when that's happened, but we are going to have to start putting animals down again," she said. "We just can't keep holding them as long as we have been."
Carol Strohmetz, president of Friends of the Waveland Animal Shelter, said animal activists who came to help after Katrina struck last year turned the shelter into a no-kill facility, which has contributed to the overpopulation of stray animals in the county. "Even though I hate euthanasia, we can't afford to be a no-kill shelter; it's just not practical," she said.

Suzzie Pollard
412 Old Spanish Trail
Waveland, MS 39576
Main Phone: 228 342 3218

There's a woman in Hancock County, that if you work with animals, you know who she is. Her name is Suzzie Pollard. She, along with dozens of others, fosters animals from the overflow of local shelters.

The problem is the number of animals was too great to begin with and is growing exponentially on a monthly basis. Between already feral animals reproducing, there are the once-domesticated but now feral animals reproducing. So in this single year of uncontrolled pet population, the numbers are beyond staggering and becoming a health crisis for all - animals and humans alike.

Heartworm is infecting dogs at a record pace. With virtually no financial resources to treat infected dogs, they are euthanized as soon as they are diagnosed. In MS, to treat a dog with heartworm starts at $400. For that same money, 8 dogs could be immunized for a full year. This is why triage is occurring. They simply can't afford to treat dogs once infected when they can prevent it in so many.

A health crisis that no one is speaking of, but which looms dark on the horizon is rabies. With this many animals, along with an exploding rat and racoon population means the threat for rabies is growing daily. All it will take is a single animal to infect a dozen or more, and the epidemic is off and running. Add that the dogs are running in packs and living in condemned homes, the threat to humans is very real.

To effectively treat both of the above problems, there is a very real need for volunteer vets to come in and assist with their spay/neuter programs. Most, if not all, rescue and SPCA-type organizations have left, having done all their budgets allow. Vetrinarians, like physicians, are at 1/3 to 1/4 staff due to relocating from the storm. So the need and the crisis is very real.

Suzzie has seen this threat and is doing all she can to help prevent it. She has been collecting and distributing up to 1,400 pounds of food daily to shelters and other foster homes, soliciting assistance from all areas she can think of and is on the verge of bankrupcy because of this crisis. She has also sacrificed her health. She has pneumonia and is sidelined for an unknown period of time. This makes the crisis that much more dire.

The entire Gulf Coast needs assistance.

Her needs, which are indicative of the region, are as follows:

Food - Any and all types of animal food. While dogs and cats are the main issue, there are other domestic and exotic animals in need as well.
Crates - all sizes of animal crates for housing and to give when an animal is adopted.
Food pans - disposable is best for feeding the house pets.
Litter pans
Cat litter - any amount of these will be a very welcome addition
Have a Heart Traps - since so many are feral, trapping is necessary
Medications/vaccinations - Flea, distemper, heartworm, tapeworm, Feline Leukemia, rabies are all in very short supply
Bedding - straw is preferred
Cleaning supplies - Bleach, Windex, Mops, Gloves, Goggles, Masks, Sponges, Scrub Brushes, SOS Pads, Paper Towels, Rags, Garbage Bags - BIG, etc.
Walmart Gift Cards - it's the closest store that has a steady source of supplies.

I have written a letter to the editor for this crisis. Please use it to send to your paper. It is under 200 words, which is necessary for most papers and is not a solicitation - also a requirement of most papers. So should get through the editors with little or not problem.

An animal crisis is occurring along the Gulf. As with any community, the unwanted pet population was already high prior to the storms and now the numbers are exploding. Feral and once-domesticated animals are all reproducing. So in this single year of uncontrolled pet breeding, the numbers are staggering and a health crisis for animals and humans has begun.

Heartworm is epidemic with triage occurring. Treatment is about $400, which can immunize 8 dogs for a full year, so dogs diagnosed with heartworm are euthanized.

The health crisis of which no one speaks, but looms dark on the horizon, is rabies. With the exploding pet, rat and raccoon populations, the rabies threat grows daily. One animal can infect a dozen or more, starting the epidemic and making the threat to humans very real. Most animal rescue organizations left, having done all their budgets allow. Veterinarians, like physicians, are at 1/4 to 1/3 staff due to relocating from the storm, so the need and the crisis is growing.

Last year’s hurricane season is far from over in so many ways.


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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Americorp Staying

AmeriCorps pledges two more years of support in Hancock Co.

By DWAYNE BREMERSep 6, 2006, 09:13

One of the largest volunteer groups in Hancock County has pledged two more years of support to the community. Officials of AmeriCorps West Senica N.Y. branch said last week they are committed to helping residents in Hancock County return to their homes, and being here has made them aware of the continued need for their assistance.
"If I would have not been here in November, then I would not have the passion to stay," Director Mark Lazzara said.
AmeriCorps members from around the country will be assisting Hancock County residents for two more years.

Pictured are some of the volunteers helping in the area. Dan Kivel, second from left, tragically drowned near St. Charles Street in May. Fellow volunteers have said his death has given them inspiration and a special bond with the community.
Over the past year, more than 1,000 volunteers have passed through St. Rose De Lima Church in Bay St. Louis, with more than 150 being AmeriCorps members, Lazzarra said. AmeriCorps is a volunteer group made up mostly of college-aged-youths from across the country. The West Senica group has served Bay St. Louis, while other AmeriCorps teams have been stationed at the former Morrell Camp in Waveland, and at the Hancock County Emergency Operations Center in Kiln.Volunteers can spend from one week to six months in the area, he said.
Most of the volunteer work done by AmeriCorps members has been in helping rebuild homes in the area. "This is the right thing to do," he said. "We don't do this for any glory, we just want to help people get in their homes."
He said his group feels a special bond with the community, one that was strengthened with the tragic death of volunteer Dan Kivel in May.
"It is still emotional to talk about," he said. "We just really feel connected towards Bay St. Louis.
"Some of the volunteers have signed up to come back to the area, after going home for the summer.
"This is like a second home," Michele Kmentt said. "This is really personal to me, it hits my heart."
Other volunteers see progress, but they say the job is far from done, and the government help is moving too slow.
"It is gratifying, but frustrating at the same time," Mike Rechtien said. "I find myself having to find new goals, I can only imagine what the people feel."
© 2005 Bay St. Louis Newspapers, Inc.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Covering A Hometown Disaster

By Kathleen KochCNN
[Editor's note: In our Behind the Scenes series, CNN correspondents share their experiences covering news. Kathleen Koch, who grew up on the Gulf Coast, covered the devastation in the area in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.]
(CNN) -- I am a journalist. Tough, unemotional, detached. Until Katrina. It was my worst childhood nightmare come true.
One year ago I covered the devastation of the Gulf Coast, including Bay St. Louis, the Mississippi town where I grew up. I saw the desperation of people who lost everything -- their homes, their businesses, even loved ones. I felt helplessness at its core. There is no worse feeling than seeing people you know and love suffering and being powerless to help them.
The year since then has been the longest of my life. (Watch how the people of Bay St. Louis have struggled for a return to normal -- 2:24)
The dreams came first. For weeks after returning from Katrina's destruction, every night I returned to the rubble, climbing through the debris-covered streets, guiding my producer Janet Rodriguez on foot as she navigated the SUV through the destruction. They weren't nightmares: It felt comfortable, it felt right.
I've made more than a dozen trips back to Mississippi over the past year, reporting, working on two documentaries and gutting houses as a volunteer. Every trip I see progress, tiny, baby steps forward. And I leave frustrated that more isn't being done to help.
The calls and e-mails still come. Some still ask for help. Most just want someone to listen, understand and care.
I go back and do what I can. Each trip is like ripping open an old wound. There's new loss each time; finding that a place that was special is now gone, that someone you knew has lost everything.
My parents, three sisters, brother and I moved to Bay St. Louis three years after it was devastated by Hurricane Camille. Barren lots still dotted the beachfront; driveways and steps leading up to nothing. Our home had a pile of bricks in the yard -- all that remained of the previous house.
When a hurricane neared, we always evacuated. It was the same drill each time. Pull out the ladder. Push the plywood over the windows. Carry small furniture upstairs. Drive away with your most precious possessions. Memorize every detail of the house as it disappears from view. Pray that you won't return to a driveway and empty steps to nothing.
On Monday, August 29, 2005, Bay St. Louis was in Katrina's bulls-eye, and I wanted to be there. I watched with dread as Katrina followed Camille's path. Bay St. Louis was my hometown, and it was where I belonged.
But reporters don't get to choose assignments in a natural disaster. I was assigned to report from Mobile, Alabama, on Sunday and Monday as Katrina roared in. Mobile was hit hard: left with no power, hundreds of downed trees, damaged roofs and three feet of water in parts of downtown.
At the height of the storm, incredibly, my cell phone rang. It was my brother, Mark, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He, his wife, Maureen, and four young children were riding out the hurricane at the Keesler Air Force Base hospital in Biloxi, where Maureen worked.
"We're OK," he said. "But the power's out. The generators are in the basement, and it's flooded. Water's coming up on the first floor now, so they're moving us all up to the higher floors. ... Maureen and the nurses are keeping patients alive using batteries and whatever they can ...But don't worry ..." Click.
The line went dead.
Tuesday, we raced west. With every mile, my heart sank. I noted the damage as we drove, until we got to Gulfport, Mississippi, and turned south toward the water. I stopped writing. There was not enough paper or ink. That's when I realized that if Gulfport was this bad, Bay St. Louis was gone.
As unreal as the scene was, even eerier was the reaction of the survivors. They walked calmly through the rubble, around the smashed cars, the 18-wheelers stacked like toys in the middle of Highway 90, over roofs that now blocked sidewalks. Their clothes were dirty, torn. They wandered emotionless through the devastation -- storm zombies.
Using the phone and computer in the satellite truck, we managed to reach CNN, check our messages and e-mail. That's when it began. Pleas for help, desperate family, friends, old classmates, strangers, all looking for loved ones, some crying. The Gulf Coast was cut off and I was the only lifeline they could reach. The e-mails were so poignant I couldn't bear to erase them:
"I unfortunately have not heard from my fam. They live in Bay st. louis and ...its bad there..."
"James (my Uncle), lives at 2 Gulf View Dr, in Ocean Springs. My mother spoke with him at 7am Monday morning, and we fear he didn't get out..."
"I'm particularly concerned about Dad since he is a stroke victim and is wheelchair bound. I am grasping at any lead or contact to try to find information about him..."
"Do you have communication with the police or sheriff's office? We are trying to find out if my home is still standing..."
So we did our job -- interviewing victims, reporting live from before dawn until after dark. As soon as we were done, we went looking. Wednesday night we made it to a senior citizens center. We were able to let a frantic woman know that her grandmother had been safely evacuated.
The next morning CNN freed me to go to Bay St. Louis, and we headed out.
Devastation seven miles inland
I was stunned after we turned off the interstate. We were seven miles inland, yet every building was flattened. Crushed cars littered the roadway. I imagined the drivers inside, fleeing as the winds buffeted them, before the storm surge swept over them.
I took the camera on a tour of my hometown, what little was left of it. Strangely, the camera helped me keep myself together. I was working. It was my fragile link to sanity.
I ran into high school friends. Each time, the story was the same. We hugged. Our eyes welled with tears. They had nothing left but the clothes they wore. Yet they refused everything I offered and asked only that I let their families know they were alive.
I found an old classmate, Kathy Cox, in our destroyed church. She'd lost everything, but begged me to let the country know that no help was getting through. "There are people getting sick, because they don't have food. I mean, they're getting sick ... vomiting and diarrhea," she explained, horrified at her own words.
I nearly lost it. I wanted to rip off the microphone, commandeer the SUV and start driving and handing out the food and water we had left. But I knew I couldn't do that to Janet, to my crew. If I did, we'd be the victims. We'd already had close calls with people desperate for gasoline or transportation.
"I'll do what I can," I assured her, knowing full well that nothing could be enough.
I was consumed with the calls, the pleas to find the missing. I looked for a roster at my damaged high school, now a shelter. No luck. I asked people on the street, quizzed police officers. But I was just one of many on a desperate search.
We found a shelter run by citizens at the Second Street Elementary School. They had not just a list of occupants, but of survivors. Every resident who walked by was asked to sign in, so someone would know they were still alive. No luck there, either.
One voicemail kept ringing in my ears: Lydia Schultz's. She was my mom's best friend, and had lived around the corner from us with her husband, Van. Growing up I regularly babysat her daughters.
"Kathie, I have not been able to get in touch with Van in any kind of way ... and was just wondering if there was some way you could possibly help me."
But the sheriff's department told us the roads there were blocked. Even if I could get there, streets signs were gone. Mailboxes were gone. Near the water, most houses were gone. I only found the house where I grew up because I recognized the driveway. It was a driveway and empty steps to nothing, a pile of bricks in the yard.
I found someone who had talked to Van around 8 a.m. He already had six inches of water in the house then. From the stories we'd heard about how fast the water rose, I knew he was probably dead.
Help the living or look for the dead?
Saturday morning, the day we were to return to Washington, we had a terrible choice to make: Help the living, or look for the dead. We chose to help the living.
Friday night, one store north of I-10 had reopened. I had been appalled that the people at the Second Street citizens shelter were sleeping on the ground. There were no pillows, no dry blankets, no sleeping bags.
Janet and I hit the store as soon as it opened, buying all the blankets, socks and underwear we could carry, as well as lanterns, batteries, games and other supplies. There were kids in the shelter. One little girl named Hope. I wanted to give her some.
We took everything to the shelter 40 miles away, took a dog we'd rescued from the rubble to a vet, and dashed to make our flight in Mobile.
Oddly, I was not happy to be home.
Having water, power, beds, intact buildings and plenty of food and drinks felt alien. I sent an e-mail to my friends:
"I'm still adjusting to being back ... feeling oddly out of place... It's as if I'm a citizen of a strange foreign land and no one here speaks my language."
The call I dreaded came eight days after the storm: Van was dead. Brooke had made it to their home and found him while digging through the rubble.
I was consumed by guilt. Somehow, I felt I had let them down.
The other friends and neighbors I'd searched for had all survived, as had my brother, his family and their home. Of my high school friends in Bay St. Louis, only three had houses they could live in.
My Katrina dreams are fewer now, but more powerful.
On July 29 the approaching anniversary was on my mind. That night, in my dream, I was back in Bay St. Louis and a hurricane was roaring in. Tornadoes dropped from the clouds. We hit the dirt, clinging to anything to keep from being blown away. After the first one passed, I stood up looking at the roiling, blackening sky with the mayor, Eddie Favre. "I feel like I'm looking into the belly of the beast," I told him.
Hurricanes will always threaten my town. And I know I can't control the forces of nature, any more than I can walk away from the place I still call home. So on this one-year anniversary, I do what the brave people there do. Keep moving forward. Refuse to give up. And never forget the past.
I made a vow to the survivors that Saturday as we pulled away from the Second Street shelter. "I promise I won't let anyone forget what happened here!" And I won't.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Weed Growing In Hancock County

From Sea Coast Echo

High Times
Aug 28, 2006, 08:53

Cutting the grass in your own yard may result in a surprise these days, as mystery plants being found throughout the southern part of Hancock County may indeed be grass, but not the type you would would expect.

County narcotics officials said this week several residents have called to report strange plants growing wild on streets, sidewalks, and in back yards. Upon further investigation by officials, these plants have been identified as cannabis, better known as marijuana.
"We have been seeing some marijuana growing in the wild," Narcotics Agent Abe Long said Wednesday. "It is popping up all over the place."
He said the increase in wild plants is probably a result of Hurricane Katrina. He said homes which had marijuana in them were destroyed and carried all over the place by Katrina's storm surge. With so much destruction and displacement of property, marijuana seeds could have ended up anywhere in the south part of the county, he said.
According to Wikipedia, the cannabis plant grows in the wild in may places around the world. Dry or humid climates can make for favorable growing conditions.
The cannabis plant is described as a long, thin, and airy bud, with a christmas tree shaped structure. In warm climates, the plants can grow up to 20 feet high.
Wednesday, Long and fellow agents confiscated several pot plants growing on the side of the road on Sears Ave. in Waveland.
Agents were tipped off to the site as a result of a search warrant served the day before.
Long said a search of a trailer in the Shady Acres trailer park yielded nine marijuana plants plus more than a pound of packaged marijuana, thousands of dollars in cash, and a sawed-off shotgun.
Two subjects were arrested in the bust. One of them, William D. Wilson. 54. of Taklequah, Ok. was also wanted in Missouri and Oklahoma for drug related offenses.
While questioning the subjects, Long learned the location of the marijuana.
"It is a common excuse when suspects say they found it on the side of the road," he said. "This time they were telling the truth."
Long and other agents went to the Sears Ave. site and discovered several additional marijuana plants growing along the side of the road.
Bay St. Louis and Waveland officers assisted in the search, he said.
Long said reports of wild marijuana have been coming in at a steady pace. Last year, the sheriff's department only received two or three calls about wild marijuana all year, he said. This week alone, he said, the narcotics department has three calls.
"If anyone sees any mysterious plants growing, please call us," he said. "Residents do not have to fear getting in trouble if they report wild plants. We will come out and identify the plants and dispose of them."

© 2005 Bay St. Louis Newspapers, Inc.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Artifical Reef Rebuilding

MLS-06-59 August 30, 2006
Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (DMR)
WHAT: Loading approximately 500 concrete culverts stored at Pass Christian Harbor onto barges to rebuild artificial reefs damaged by Hurricane Katrina
WHERE: Pass Christian Harbor
WHEN: Loading Friday, Sept. 1, 2006 at 9 a.m.
BACKGROUND: The DMR will begin loading barges with approximately 500 concrete culverts donated by the City of Pass Christian (from the front beach drainage system in Harrison County, which was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. On Sept. 5, Mathews Marine of Pass Christian will begin distributing the culverts on Fish Havens 1 and 2, which are reefs located in the Gulf of Mexico about 25 miles south of Biloxi.
Hurricane Katrina damaged about 80 percent to 90 percent of Mississippi’s nearshore and offshore artificial fishing reefs on Aug. 29, 2005.
The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is dedicated to enhancing, protecting and conserving marine interests of the State by managing all marine life, public trust wetlands, adjacent uplands and waterfront areas to provide for the optimal commercial, recreational, educational and economic uses of these resources consistent with environmental concerns and social changes. Visit the DMR online at

Marti Schuman Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Public Affairs Representative 1141 Bayview Ave. Biloxi, MS 39530 (228) 523-4052 (228) 297-9870 (cell)

Waste Water Issues

FOR IMMEDATE RELEASEWASTEWATER ISSUE VITAL FOR REBUILDING HANCOCK COUNTYWhy do people want to live in Hancock County, even in spite of the devastation from Hurricane Katrina? People come for the coastal living and recreational opportunities. Yet, the environment and the quality of life are the very things which are endangered by development and population growth. Like all other coastal areas, Hancock County is facing the pressure of population growth and must formulate a plan that will serve the community that will exist in 25-30 years.

The volumes of water required to treat waste are so large that increasing populations create challenges to what to do with treatment discharges. The amount of freshwater needed to treat one person’s waste is 8 million cubic feet. Or, put another way, water equal to 12 football fields each 10 feet deep. There is one wastewater treatment plant in Hancock County for the entire population south of I-10. This facility is located in Waveland and each discharges 4 million gallons of treated wastewater into Edwards Bayou - - which, in turn flows into the Bay of St. Louis.

Because the treated wastewater flows into the Bay, shellfish harvesting has been off limits in for the last 40 years. Just south of the Bay, Square Handkerchief Reef accounts for 99% of all the oysters harvested in the state of Mississippi. There is additional threat from bacteria in water discharged from water treatment systems, leaked from faulty septic systems, or found somewhere in storm-water runoff which captures bacteria and pollutes the recreational waters of the coast. Even before damage to infrastructure from Hurricane Katrina, there were 63 identified point source discharges of contaminated water flowing into Hancock County waterways. When there is rainfall of more than two inches, the reef is closed to harvesting because of bacterial contamination from runoff.

The bottom line is that as Hancock County grows, the infrastructure must be in place to support the quality of life everyone wants to have. The infrastructure must be created to remove the sources of contamination and water quality will improve. With improved water quality comes better health, improved opportunities for economic development and strengthened tourism and recreational offerings.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has been charged with creating a six county regional master plan for water and wastewater to carry out the requirements of legislation passed in the 2006 session of the Mississippi legislature. With creation of this master plan, each of the utility authorities in the six counties can apply for funds from the $500 million from HUD Community Development Block Grants being managed at the state level. Three public coastwide meetings will be held to hear comments on the master plan in the near future. To keep abreast of the progress of the master plan, go to and subscribe to the newsletter.

The Public Services Committee of the Hancock County Governor’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal has been working closely with the Gulf of Mexico Program and the MDEQ on the water and wastewater situation, along with the drafting of the master plan. For more information call Angela Sallis at 467-9048 or you can email
Mary M. PerkinsPublic Affairs/Development Officer
Hancock County Library System
312 Highway 90Bay St. Louis, MS 39520

Telephone: (228) 467-6836 Fax: (228) 467-5503