Industrial park neighbors worry about accidents

Industrial park neighbors worry about accidents
The Cherokee Concerned Citizens group has worked with emergency officials to help develop an early warning system for those living near the industrial park. (Viewer photo)
The Cherokee Concerned Citizens group has worked with emergency officials to help develop an early warning system for those living near the industrial park. (Viewer photo)

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Neighbors living near the Enterprise plant have been through this drill before. There have been incidents and accidents at other industries in the area.

Residents living in the shadow of Bayou Casotte Industrial Park formed the group Cherokee Concerned Citizens more than a year ago. They have lobbied for neighborhood sirens, an early warning system and better communication with industry and emergency officials.

Concerned neighbors gathered Tuesday morning to commiserate in the shade of Barbara Weckesser's carport.

"How hard is it to send a text to our phones? You know, we have an issue. Hazmat could do it. One of them could do it. Somebody could do it," said Weckesser.

Since evacuations were not required, no notice was given to neighbors, leaving them to speculate and worry.

"I turned this way to go back in, and when I turned back, you seen the flames coming up over the trees and the smoke above it. I was just like, oh my goodness. What's happened? What's going on," said Amy Perez.

Lacking any official notice or information, social media filled the void.

"Through Facebook. Everybody was posting stuff. Wondering what the heck was going on. And then seeing WLOX," said Jaylin Mazingo.

"I'd like to be notified, in case I might have to get out of here," said Fred Nelson, Sr.

Nelson has lived in this neighborhood some 30 years and thinks worries could be addressed with more communication.

"They could have come through and waked up people. Some kind of siren or something should have went off. Some kind of noise or something besides you're up and look and see a big fire," said Nelson.

From the Briarwood Estates neighborhood off Old Mobile Hwy., you can clearly see the stacks from the Enterprise plant. One longtime resident told us the incident was more than a little unnerving. He's lived here for 30 years and said the fear of an industrial accident is something we all live with.

"We want to know what's going on. We want to know do we need to leave? Are we in danger? What's happening," said Perez.

"They've got a siren that can go off over here when we've got a crane moving or it's time to go to lunch, but we can't be notified with some type of alert or warning for this neighborhood," added Weckesser.

The Cherokee Concerned Citizens group has worked with emergency officials to help develop an early warning system for those living near the industrial park. They have also worked on efforts to measure harmful emissions from nearby facilities.

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