Hancock County's Challenge To Pay For Debris Cleanup - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Hancock County's Challenge To Pay For Debris Cleanup

FEMA has committed to continue picking up the total cost of debris clean up in New Orleans for at least another year.  

"They have a lot more dry debris on the ground that needs to be attended to," says Len Decarlo with FEMA.

Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo says if that's the reason FEMA needs to take another look at Hancock County.  

"The people aren't coming and visiting that are making the decisions any more," says Longo. "They're not coming to Waveland and Bay St. Louis. Because it's a no brainer once you get your feet on the ground."

Bay St. Louis Mayor Eddie Farve agrees that if they looked on the ground here, they'd still a substantial amount of work left to be done.  

"In the whole county, there still may be 6 million dollars of debris left out there," says Farve. "So even at 1 percent we're still talking 60 thousand dollars. 60 thousand dollars is half a payroll for the city of Bay St. Louis."

And both men say neither their city's nor the county has that kind of money.  

"All of us lost all of our operating money, property taxes, sales taxes, casino revenues," says Farve.

"We still have to come with a whole lot of money that 1 percent is going to be that really could have been avoided," says Longo.

The way to do that, would have been for the states elected leaders to ask for it. Something Longo and Farve say they didn't do.  

"All we were asking for was for the governor to make the request of the president and then if the president chose not to extend the deadline," says Farve. "Even if it was just for western Harrison County and Hancock County."

And both worry than now that the money is gone, it's not coming back.  

"All it would have taken was the stroke of a pen," says Longo. "You know, we had a commitment from Washington and they would have signed it."

Farve says he's already contacted state representative J.P. Compretta about the situation, and he says he's been assured that House leaders will ask for additional aid for Mississippi's hardest hit small towns and cities.

WLOX attempted to contact someone with the Governor's office regarding the request for an extension; our calls were not returned. It should be noted, President Bush has extended that deadline four times.

by Don Culpepper

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