Forrest Heights unveils levee plans

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Gulfport community is one step closer to getting more protection from Mother Nature. Next month, work is set to begin on a six-month levee restoration project in the Forrest Heights community.

Monday night, hundreds of people came out to a public hearing to learn more on the plans.

More than 40 years ago, Forrest Heights emerged. Two hundred homes were erected in the Gulfport flood zone, but the turnkey community never flooded because along with new homes, came a 16 foot levee.

"Just over the years it became eroded and not maintained very well," said Scott Burge.

Burge is with Garner Russell & Associates, the company that built the first Forrest Heights levee. Now the company will restore the levee back to its original state.

"The only difference is that it will be wider at the top and have more slopes on the side so that it can be maintained," said Burge.

The 16 foot levee will be made of clay-like matter. The sides and top of the structure will be covered with grass. The levee will also have two flood gates, one on the west side of the Forrest Heights subdivision, the other on the southeast corner.

The plan has been in the works for years. However, some want to know what impact the levee will have on other communities.

"We definitely understand the surrounding communities to be concerned that something is going to be placed as a barrier for the water," said Councilwoman Ella Holmes-Hines.

However, contractors assured people they won't divert any water, so the restoration project will not have an adverse impact on the Turkey Creek system.

Soon the rest of North Gulfport will get the help it needs to protect its communities too. A second phase of the project will address the North Gulfport Community.

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers has already earmarked $14 million to raise the Forrest Heights levee to 21 feet. Phase two will also include removing debris from Turkey Creek. There is no word yet on when that phase will begin.

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