We're now just ten days away from the beginning of the 2006 Hurricane Season, and rotting chicken still remains untouched in various pools on abandoned sites throughout a West Gulfport neighborhood surrounding Regnault Avenue.
"It's nine months now. They say, 'Well, you ought to be used to it by now.' You ain't gonna get used to that smell. My gosh," said resident Gary Tatum.
The meat had been stored at the Port of Gulfport. Katrina washed it in to yards covering an eight block span. The meat in the yards has been picked up, but the meat in hard-to-see areas has not.
"I've called and talked to the city and stuff and told them, 'Hey guys, just come on down here and take a whiff.' But you know it's like, 'Well, when we get there, we'll get there.' You know, that's about as far as you get," said Tatum.
While Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr agrees that it is a slow process, he says the city is taking steps to insure products from the port will not end up in nearby neighborhoods this upcoming hurricane season.
"There are opportunities for us now to look at moving some of that containerized staging area north of Highway 90 into what they call an inland port which certainly makes a lot of sense. That loosens up some of that real estate down there that certainly could be used for better things. And trying to then be very, very careful about where they locate certain things as their storage or the great bulk non-containerized cargo, which includes the chicken and the other things that were so offensive to be strewn all over town," said Warr.
As for the rotting meat still in those neighborhoods, Warr says he's also eager to see the cleanup finished.
"We still have a contract with a debris clean up specialist that are doing that. That's their task. Of course we have to be notified, and we're happy and anxious to send them out and get this thing finished," said Warr.
Gary Tatum says he's been doing just that, and will continue to try to get help to clean up the meat.
"It's like they haven't really forgotten, it's just like the paperwork has been shuffled off somewhere else. And you know, in a roundabout way, they say, 'No, we haven't forgotten about you.' Oh, well yes you have," said Tatum.