Water park plans set to be approved by FEMA

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Any day now. That's the latest word on when final FEMA approval could come to rebuild the water park at Buccaneer State Park in Hancock County.

Nearly six years after Hurricane Katrina washed away Buccaneer Bay, frustrated leaders in Hancock County see a glimmer of hope now that the water park will finally be rebuilt.

The Katrina damaged remnants of the park stand as reminder of what once was a popular attraction. Senator David Baria is frustrated that FEMA red tape has delayed reconstruction so long.

"Unfortunately, the water park phase,  the final phase has been tied up in plan review with FEMA," Senator Baria said.

The nearly $6 million water park promises to be bigger and better than the old one.
Baria said FEMA approved those plans more than a year ago.

"We got a bid and we were ready to go with the construction and FEMA changed its mind. So we had to go back and re-draw the plans and resubmit them, and that's where they sit right now."

The good news is park leaders expect to receive FEMA approval for the new plans any day now.

"As soon as those plans are given the thumbs up, the project will be put out to bid. And when the bids are received and approved, then it should take less than six months. So if everything goes like it should, we should have our water park by spring."

Waveland city leaders say the water park can't be built fast enough.
Mayor David Garcia said his business community depends on the tourists the water park draws.

"We're quite disappointed it's moving so slow," said Mayor David Garcia. "Because it brings new dollars, the new dollars brings sales taxes. It helps the mom and pop businesses, as well as the box stores like Walmart."

Senator Baria agreed, saying, "If you take those 500,000 visitors that we were seeing every year prior to Katrina, and the money that they spent, and you just multiply that out, that's a tremendous loss to the economy of Hancock County. And the city of Waveland, more particularly."

A FEMA spokesman told WLOX News the agency is poised and ready to review the final plans for the water park, which are expected to arrive later this month.

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