Hurricane Katrina Forest Recovery

As we work together to tackle the historic challenge that Hurricane Katrina has presented to the forestry communities of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, we hope that this blog will be a valuable resource and tool.

Monday, October 23

Phasing in Progress - Long Beach Lands Water, Sewer Repair Funds

In cities throughout South Mississippi, residents and officials are eager to see progress in rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. People in Long Beach won't have long to wait. The city received approval - and funding - from FEMA last week to start work on Phase I of replacing the water and sewer system south of the railroad tracks.

Work is scheduled to begin Oct. 30 on that phase, which runs from Nicholson Avenue to Girard Avenue and includes downtown. Long Beach is the first city in South Mississippi to get FEMA approval for replacing its water and sewer system, and Mayor Billy Skellie hopes the city gets the go-ahead more quickly for the other four phases. He also hopes it will make things easier for surrounding cities when they seek FEMA approval for the same type of work. "It has taken us from December until now to get this approved," he said. "We are the first city to start permanent replacement of water and sewer, but I think the second phase will go more quickly."

The problem, he said, is when FEMA gave the city estimates on what it would cost to replace the system, engineers used pre-Katrina prices. FEMA estimated the entire project would cost about $4 million to replace. When the lowest bid for the first phase came in at nearly $4 million, the project had to be reviewed again, by officials from South Mississippi to the nation's capital. Since that hurdle has been crossed and work will begin soon, Skellie believes the other phases will be approved quickly with the entire project scheduled to be completed by the end of June 2007.

Ward 2 Alderman Richard Notter represents the area covered by Phase I and said he is encouraged and believes when people see work going on, they will know Long Beach is making progress. "I think anything we can do to show rebuilding is a positive thing," he said. "Our beachfront is a vital part of our city, as well as our downtown area. I'm hoping that by replacing water and sewer, things will come back. We need the revenue for the city." Phase II runs from Girard west to the city line. The third phase goes from Nicholson east to the city line. The other two phases involve repairing manholes and sewer lines inland.
Long Beach progress

City officials are working on several projects to help the city rebuild from damage cause by Hurricane Katrina.

• Mayor Billy Skellie said the city has received bids on the first phase of permanent repairs to the harbor, which includes replacing two piers, the launch ramp and a crosswalk pier. Officials with FEMA and MEMA are reviewing those bids now. "We don't have a time frame for the harbor to be completed, but we could see the first phase done this winter," Skellie said.

• City officials are applying for a government grant that, if approved, could provide millions of dollars for new sidewalks, buried utilities and streets and drainage for the downtown area.

• Work also is being done on the library, which city officials believe is vital to downtown. Skellie said it could open by January or February.
"We're trying to get there," he said. "There's a lot of work being done there, and we feel like we could start moving back in sometime this winter."

• Land on Daugherty Road has been cleared for a new senior center, which has been in the works since before Katrina, Alderman Richard Bennett said.
The city so far has received more than $2 million in grants for the project, and the new center will have a gym, showers, a kitchen, community room and outdoor patio.
It also will have a generator so it can be used as a shelter during hurricanes, Bennett said.

The Sun Herald


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