GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It's hard to believe two weeks ago, the Harrison County jail had a working kitchen, feeding up to 1000 inmates a day. Now it looks like a major construction zone. The floors are torn up, and all the equipment has been moved out. Fixing the mess is a major undertaking.
The work supervisor on the job is Kerry Justice and says it's not an unusual problem, especially in a large commercial kitchen.
"Anytime you got grease running down into the sewer lines, the grease lines, grease and chemicals you end up putting in over the years, and that being cast iron also, and what's in the ground, it deteriorates that pipe. It will rot that pipe out over the years," Justice said.
Inmates have been fed cold meals for the past week. But a portable kitchen supplied by the state arrived Wednesday, and hot meals are once again on the menu at the jail. The warden is relieved.
Don Cabanna said, "With the mobile kitchen in place, we started this morning with a hot breakfast, so I think that's going to be vast improvement. It gets us close to normal operations."
While inmates work in the portable kitchen, plumbers are busy outside, repairing 20 years worth of damage, a job that will take another two weeks. The sheriff keeps a watchful eye on the work, hoping for better days ahead. But Sheriff Melvin Brisolara says this could be a blessing in disguise.
"When we get it finished and ready to open it back up, it will be a brand new kitchen facility," Brisolara said. "We moved all the equipment out, and that gave us sort of a chance to be able to get all the equipment out, get it all cleaned and looking brand new and everything before we move it back in."
And that day can't come soon enough for the sheriff or the hungry inmates.