GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The industrial canal in Gulfport is still closed to traffic.
Pine trees and other debris are blocking the canal just east of the Highway 605 bridge. Officials believe that this is the result of a mudslide from the recent heavy rainfall.
The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS) sits at the end of a long narrow road that runs parallel to the industrial canal. IMMS Executive Director, Dr. Moby Solangi says the most recent debris pile-up isn't the first time the area has seen an issue like this.
"This bank is in serious trouble in certain areas and has almost reached the edge of our road," said Solangi.
According to Solangi, there are three main reasons to keep the canal maintained.
"One, to protect this road from falling in. Number two, for the maintaining the depth of the canal. And three, for boater safety," he said.
There are several places along the road that appear to be on the brink of falling in. To mitigate the problems of erosion, the Harrison County Development Commission dumps crushed bricks all along the disappearing banks.
"But that's a temporary fix. They have a plan and they're working with FEMA to fix this permanently," said Solangi.
According to Solangi, the county is simply waiting on FEMA to approve their plan to create a permanent fix. Until then, he says the danger is ever increasing for the heavy traffic that uses the canal on a daily basis.
Other than the industries along the banks, IMMS also uses the canal for field trips and eco-tours. The canal is also sometimes used as an evacuation route for boaters.
"And if you don't have the embankment it will be very difficult for those boats to have safe harbor," said Solangi.
The Coast Guard will be working with the Army Corps of Engineers to determine the best way to clear the canal of the debris. As of now, there is no time frame set for that work to happen.