Ditch Breeds Unwelcome Neighbors

The city crew clearing the ditch behind Diane Lawson's house on Audubon Place says it's the worst in Biloxi. "We tell 'em to keep their children inside, keep their pets inside cause there was one woman lost her dog. A moccasin bit the dog up on the nose and killed it instantly and you can imagine what it would do to a baby," says city worker Steve Jackson.  That scary thought forces Lawson and her neighbors to stay indoors. "When your children can't play in their backyard. You have to watch your animals like hawks when they go use the restroom for fear of rats, water moccasins, some as long as six feet," Lawson says.

The ditch widens as it curls through the neighborhood, ending at Pat Coburn's house. Pointing to a dead, headless snake, Coburn says, "This is today's fresh roadkill, ditchkill." The city workers killed the cottonmouth in Coburn's yard. "I've had four I've killed myself up in my grass in my yard."

Councilman Tom Wall says the city should have never allowed the ditch to remain when the subdivision was developed. He says money is available to install pipes that will dry up the ditch, and then cover it with concrete. "I think we're waiting on someone to write the contract, the city administration to take action. One thing I learned a long time ago don't try to tell anybody when. It'll make a liar outta ya every time."  That's not very reassuring to Lawson, Coburn and other Petit Bois citizens who unwillingly share their space with some very unwelcome critters.

Mayor A.J. Holloway says before a contract is awarded, the city has to get three easements from property owners. Holloway says it will be a huge drainage project that will take about six months to finish,  costing around $800,000.