Renew Our Rivers tackles Hancock Co. marshland clean-up

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - By Steve Phillips – bio | email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Teams of volunteers tackled a hurricane debris clean-up project in Hancock County on Wednesday morning. Mississippi Power Company kicked off its annual Renew Our Rivers program by targeting marshlands in the Ansley community.

Dozens of volunteers did their part to help restore some significant wetlands. Volunteers removed storm debris from a marshland that's on the mend.

"And this is actually Katrina debris that Gustav pushed up and consolidated. And this is the third attempt to come in here and get some of this stuff up," said volunteer Chris Legarde.

Mississippi Power and Coast Electric are partners in this project.  Work crews used heavy equipment called "marsh masters" to navigate the sensitive swamps. The tracked vehicles allow access to the debris without leaving damaging ruts.

"Our guys brought four wheelers, so even though it's a little tough to get to, I think they're doing a really nice job of getting out and getting this really big stuff out of here. It looks like there are pieces of old houses in here. And we're just happy to help get this to its original state," said Ron Barnes with Coast Electric Company.

The marsh project kicks off a four day Renew Our Rivers program, which will also target Turkey Creek, Deer Island and the Pascagoula River with similar clean-up events.

"The various natural resources that we have all along. Whether its our rivers, our bayous our beaches. And this marshland is an estuary for all the future fish we want to go out and catch one day," said Tracy Heggins with Mississippi Power Company.

One of the biggest obstacles in the marshland clean-up is accessibility. That's why a makeshift wooden bridge was built, so the volunteers can reach the debris.

"You know, I think all of us, it just makes us feel better to do a little bit. To make a small difference. Come out here and get this marsh to come back. And bring it back for the next ten year," said Tommy Murphy with Mississippi Power.

Workers did their best to pick up the mess and help restore the marsh.

Last year's Renew Our Rivers clean-up project involved more than 500 volunteers, who removed some 16 tons of debris from area waterways.

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