Corps Extends Debris Removal Deadline

With more than 45 million cubic yards of storm debris picked up statewide, the Corps of Engineers says its job is almost done in Pass Christian and Harrison County.

"We're about 99 percent complete in both counties," says Brigadier General Robert Crear of the Army Corps of Engineers.

But Crear says he knows there is debris still out there.

"So we're working with FEMA, we're working with local officials to make a determination if that debris qualifies for what the Corps of Engineers should do."

Debris that qualifies is vegetation, curbside and home demolition.

The corps estimate, says one mayor, depends on how you crunch the numbers. Bay St. Louis Mayor Eddie Favre says nearly 10 months after Hurricane Katrina debris removal is no where close to being finished.

"I'm not saying anybody's intentionally trying to mislead anybody, but I think very well it could be that they're simply talking about what has been put before them up 'til now. It might be 99 percent complete. Is the job 99 percent complete as far as the amount of debris we have left? No. I don't think we're anywhere close to that," Favre says.

Favre says a recent flyover of Hancock County convinced him of that.

"We found pockets of debris that we didn't even know were there, huge piles of debris with a lot of hazardous materials in it in an area that we didn't even know was there."

Crear says even after the Corps deadline passes, people can still get debris removed.

"I guess the bottom line is, we'll be engaged for as long as the local folks want us. But it is a situation that we'll have to discuss case by case."

Crear says the Corps is willing to do that until all of the hurricane debris is hauled off.

FEMA contracted with the Corps to pick up debris. According to a FEMA spokesperson the contract totals $975 million.