Port Director Says Luring A Cruise Ship Is Part Of Recovery Plan

The director of the Port of Gulfport says the port has actually made great strides regarding its recovery. This, despite scathing comments from some state lawmakers.

On Thursday, members of the State House Ports Committee blasted Port Director Don Allee for what they call slow recovery at the port.

Committee members, including chairman Billy Broomfield of Moss Point, are asking why the port seems to be lagging behind in completing its master plan for the recovery - a plan that's required before the port can receive federal Katrina recovery funds.

Broomfield spoke at length about his concerns Thursday on WLOX News at 5pm. (Click on the camera to the left to watch his full interview.)

Allee told WLOX News on Friday that recovery work began at the port the day after the hurricane. And he points out three major carriers returned to the port less than a month after the storm. However, he admits there have been challenges.

"To the average person, it's quite fair to expect us to be further along. We wish we could recover quicker than we are. But I think we have made some great strides since the storm, if you take into consideration the magnitude of Hurricane Katrina, what it did to my port, to our port, our community's port, some of the major projects. Our rail connectivity within the Port was completely wiped out, we had 700,000 square feet of shed space that was destroyed," Allee said.

Allee said the Port will try to communicate better with state lawmakers. He also says getting a cruise line to come to Gulfport is part of the port's long range recovery strategy.