PEARL RIVER COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - With each passing day, Pearl River County residents get one step closer to life on the river as they once knew it. In the weeks since the massive fish kill, hundreds of locals volunteered their time to help get things back in order.
Some residents said the chaos that followed this massive fish kill is almost reminiscent to the BP Oil Spill. With so much to do before things can get back to normal, locals were charged to 'help themselves,' and they've answered the call.
Born and raised in Pearl River County, Phillip Thomas said when he saw there was a need for the community to lend a hand, he didn't hesitate to help.
He and his family are among the many local volunteers who've stepped up to the plate and battled the elements in an effort to help the community they know and love.
"I've had spiders and all that on me today. It ain't no biggie. It was smelly, hot, but it was worth it. All our kids play in this river. It's gonna be a while before that can happen, but we'll get her done," said Thomas.
Kids like Carson Lee are a perfect example of why these volunteers are working so hard.
"What I like about the river is that you get to go have fun, and now you can't," said Lee.
When asked how important the river is to her and her family, Carson's mother, Michelle Lee had a swift response.
"It's very important. We fish here a lot, always frying fish. We play in the river. Can't swim now," said Lee.
It's not a good idea for anyone to take a swim after a paper company in Louisiana released chemicals into the water, resulting in the fish kill. Still, with the efforts of the community and the EOC, soon that all might change.
"We have the water coming down from the Reservoir in Jackson, and hopefully, it's gonna go through and clean a lot of this up. It's going to take a long time to heal, but the river is resilient, just like we are," said EOC Director Danny Manley.
Though volunteers agree there's still a ways to go, even they can recognize the progress thus far.
"It's a lot cleaner than what it was. We did a pretty good job cleaning up the river. We were out there picking up fish off the river banks and the sand bars, a little trash," Jefferey McDowell explained.
"I was raised on this river swamp, and I'll die on this river swamp. My whole family has. I live right on the river banks, and I'm glad to see it cleaned up," said Thomas.