The Mississippi Sierra Club wants Gulfport citizens to get more involved in protecting the environment. The club is launching a sign campaign encouraging citizens to make a difference.
The signs say "we can clean up Mississippi's air and water" and they're going up throughout the city. Sierra Cub members want the signs and postcards to send a message to state officials.
"It's high time that the elected officials do their duty and protect the health and welfare of the citizens of this state instead of succumbing to the short term quick buck of Butch Ward and other developers," Sierra Club Director Louis Miller says.
Butch Ward is the Louisiana developer who wants to fill in 100 acres of wetlands to build a retail/office complex north of Turkey Creek. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality issued Ward a permit and the Sierra Club is challenging it in court.
"We will get a fair hearing and I think it will be at that point as every legal decision, every challenge that we've ever made against DEQ we have won in a court of law," Miller says.
Citizens who live near Turkey Creek and whose homes have flooded say city leaders are ignoring their fears of more flooding from development, so they have to fight back. Gaynett Flowers Pugh's home has flooded three times.
"Water doesn't flow upstream, it comes down. Now you elevate something and dig out this and fill it in for his shopping center we're gonna have more water runnin' up into people's houses than we already have," she says.
"This is our land. Once they take it, take this project in they're going to take the rest of Turkey Creek. Yeah, we got to fight. I don't have have no where else to go unless I pack up my eternal suitcase and move," Reverand Calvin Jackson, Sr. says.
Miller took a boat tour of Turkey Creek this morning. City councilmembers, county supervisors and other concerned citizens also went along. Developer Butch Ward did not return our phone calls regarding the Sierra Club's campaign.