Port of Gulfport considers inland property for evacuation site - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Port of Gulfport considers inland property for evacuation site

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GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

The next time a hurricane threatens the coast, the Port of Gulfport is considering using some property north of the port as an evacuation site.

There is also some consideration being given to using that same location as a cold storage warehouse. Katrina destroyed the old warehouse, and it has not come back to the port since the storm.

The site under consideration is 148 acres on 33rd Street, just west of Highway 49, and about two miles north of the port.

Only 31 acres of that land would be used by the port. Some of it is wetlands and the port director says they will not touch any of that land, nor will it touch about 10 acres that was contaminated decades ago when a fertilizer plant sat here.

"The 10 acre parcel of land that is contaminated is completely fenced off. There are signs, there is a locked gate," Interim Port Director Matt Wypyski told WLOX News.

Wapicksi also emphasized that an environmental consulting firm monitors the contaminated 10 acres on a regular basis. He also said that recent tests show the contaminants have been restricted and are showing no signs of spreading.

As for using the 31 acres as a port evacuation site, Wypyski pointed out that it makes perfect sense.

"Those containers would be moved up here, we are only two miles from the port and it affords our customers a safe and predictable area to re-locate their containers."

The port took a major financial hit when Katrina wiped out the cold storage warehouse operation. Wypyski says putting it on the land they are considering would move it a long way from any storm surge.

And there is another reason why they eventually want to get the cold storage operation up and going again.

"It is very important to know that that type of operation would create a lot of well paying jobs, and those jobs are very important to the community at large," Wypyski said.

Wypyski also wanted to make it clear that right now, these are only ideas the port is considering. They welcome and plan on soliciting public input from the community. It could be months before a final decision is made.

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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