Katrina slabs slowly disappearing in Gulfport

Katrina slabs slowly disappearing in Gulfport

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - More than a decade after Hurricane Katrina, work continues to remove concrete slabs left behind. Several Coast cities have launched slab removal projects during the past year, including Gulfport.

A massive slab removal project is underway at an old apartment complex on Debuys Rd., where heavy equipment crushes chunks of concrete.

A straight-forward assignment, Mike Supple's company has been busy with 15 slab removal jobs; both commercial and residential. However, the apartment complex project is larger than most.

"It'll take about eight or 10 days. We started Sunday," said Supple, who noted that commercial properties typically have thick concrete. "They vary anywhere. These footings here are about 18 inches, some of them are as much as 24 inches. The slab is about 4 inches."

In the summer of 2015, the city sent out 286 letters to property owners, advising them to have Katrina slabs removed. Since then, Gulfport Urban Development Director Greg Pietrangelo says progress has been slow, but steady.

Of those 286 letters, 215 of the cases are resolved. Either the slab has been removed, there's a permit pulled to do the work or city inspectors found a property owner's slab was exempt for some reason.

"We will continue to work with them. The ordinance laid out steps for us to follow," said Pietrangelo. "We're not ready to take the next step yet. Most of our citizens have been very cooperative and willing to pull them up." 

Pietrangelo says not only are the decade-old slabs unsightly, they also tend to hinder the path of progress Gulfport is pursuing for the future of this city.

"If I was in the market to purchase a property, one that is minus a slab is a lot more valuable to me than one that is with a slab on it," Pietrangelo added. "Katrina is long gone. We need to go forth."

For unresolved cases, the next step for the city would be to schedule a hearing before the city council for individual property owners.

As a last resort, the city could proceed with removing a slab, then bill the cost of that work to a property owner's tax bill.

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