Gulfport Man Calls Bayou Clean Up Delays "Absurd"

Try to picture a two story house floating down Bernard Bayou.

"Honest to goodness, it looked like a ship," said Sherman Muths.

During the height of Katrina, the Gulfport man sat in his Povenir Place home and watched the fully furnished wooden structure crash into his waterfront property. It reminded him of the moment Titanic slammed into an iceberg.

"Oh it was weird," he said. "Seeing a whole two story, four bedroom house coming right at you here in the bayou is kind of weird. To say it was unusual would be an understatement."

If you've driven around the Mill Road curve in Gulfport, you've probably seen the pile of destruction in Muths' yard.

"I hope there's not a wreck over there someday with so many people stopping and looking at this thing," Muths said.

Part of the mangled house is teetering on the bank of the bayou, littering the water with unwanted hurricane debris. And that's what has Muths so worried. So he contacted the Coast Guard, the DMR, the Corps of Engineers and FEMA.

"And I asked them when they were going to get this out. And the word was soon," he said.

That was in January. It's now six months later. And Mr. Muths wants to know why one of those agencies hasn't removed this mess. The answer, according to the DMRs Lauren Thompson, has to do with priorities.

A Coast Guard contract to clear hurricane debris out of Bernard Bayou will eventually be awarded. But, she said, other waterways where human health and safety risks are more severe have to be cleared first.

Muths seemed perplexed by that answer.

"How that's not a menace to the health of the community or the fish or the marine life, I don't understand that," he wondered. "It doesn't make a lot of sense.

Muths said he was amazed by all the delays.

"You can't say anything but absurd that it's taken this long to even have the bid process complete for a casualty that occurred almost a year ago," Muths said.

He said the situation was about as astonishing as the morning Katrina unmercifully tossed a beautiful two story house into the bulkhead at the base of his waterfront property.

So far, the Coast Guard has issued three debris removal contracts. It's already completed the St. Mary's Street project in Pascagoula. And it's almost done with the waterway work in Henderson Point and Jourdan River Isles.

The next contract the Coast Guard should award digs out debris in the waters near Pearlington. After that, rivers north of I-10 will be cleared.  And then, the waters south of the interstate will be cleaned.  That contract includes the bayou behind Sherman Muths' home.