Coast Leaders Thrilled FEMA Reimbursement Deadline Extended - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/20/05

Coast Leaders Thrilled FEMA Reimbursement Deadline Extended

South Mississippi city leaders are calling it great news.

FEMA will be picking up 100-percent of the debris removal tab until January 15th.

The reimbursement extension was announced Saturday by Governor Haley Barbour.

With the tax base obliterated in many South Mississippi cities, the extension has coast leaders breathing a sigh of relief.

Even after nearly three months of clean up, some parts of South Mississippi still look like a wasteland.

"It's just been an incredible amount of debris, unprecedented in U-S history," said Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr.

Since Katrina, FEMA has been footing 100-percent of the debris clean up cost in South Mississippi cities.

Full FEMA funding was set to drop back to 90-percent come November 27th, leaving cities to pay the other 10-percent, but this weekend FEMA announced it will completely fund debris removal until January 15.

"It was great news, and Governor Barbour's done a great job in the negotiation of this, and the requests that have been made at the White House have been exceptional. They've done a good job, they've gotten it to us. It's necessary. We couldn't do it without that," Mayor Warr said.

All of the coast's cities face a monumental task when it comes to debris removal.

While some cities have more trash to collect than others, they're all sure to be racing to meet the new FEMA deadline

So far, about one-third of debris removal is complete in Gulfport.

Biloxi reports it's collected more than a quarter of its debris, and the clean up in Hancock County is about a quarter of the way done.

All of the coast's cities and counties face the unique challenge of removing millions of cubic yards of debris, but at least for the time being they won't be sifting for funds to pay for the clean up.

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