DEER ISLAND, MS (WLOX) - Bring Deer Island back to its glory days. That's what a new multi-million dollar restoration project is about to accomplish.
Long before hurricanes split and depleted Deer Island, the barrier island was just that, a protective barrier from storm damage to the mainland.
There were a lot of smiling faces Tuesday as the project officially kicked off.
Local dignitaries cut the ribbon on the $14.5 million restoration of Deer Island. The ceremonial dedication for the restoration and re-nourishment project is reason to celebrate. An important line of defense from storms is being fortified.
"It's very critical, from a storm protection perspective, that these islands remain intact and continue to provide that function," said Department of Marine Resources Director Dr. Bill Walker.
The island is also a rich ecological area supporting countless species of marine life and birds. Past storms have depleted the barrier island.
The Army Corps of Engineers began phase one of the comprehensive restoration on September 5 to fill the western breach and restore the southern shoreline. Biloxi Senator Tommy Gollott has been pushing for this for a very long time.
"Many, many years, the coastal delegation has been working toward this. I'd say the last 20 years," said Senator Gollott.
Their goal is to make Deer Island like it was in 1910. City of Biloxi Port Manager Frankie Duggan couldn't be happier this work is underway.
"All your minor storms and hurricanes will have half the effect that they've had before since this gap is filled in. And for me personally, I'll see the island whole again as I did when I was a child. So it's exciting for me personally and the city of Biloxi as well," said Duggan.
Money for the project is coming from federal funds received after hurricanes Katrina, Gustav and Ike.