Volunteers Tackle Deer Island Clean Up

An army of volunteers scoured the sandy shoreline while others combed the nearby woods of Deer Island.

Although there's no river running through it, Mississippi Power decided to add the popular recreation getaway to the company's "Renew Our Rivers" effort.

That ongoing environmental project began seven years ago with Alabama Power and quickly caught on throughout the Southern Company.

"All of our system operating companies have adopted renew our rivers programs. It's just part of our responsibility to what we do, what we do for a living and playing here. It's just the right thing," said Kim Flowers, a vice president with Mississippi Power.

"We're finding everything from tennis shoes to a lot of plastic bags, a lot of cigarette butts, a lot of Styrofoam," said Penny Edwards of Diamondhead.

She brought her two young daughters to the island clean-up. The project provides an important environmental lesson.

"I'm trying to teach them to give back to the community and just keep our area clean for generations to come," said Edwards.

Deer Island has survived for countless generations. The island eco system is both fragile and resilient.

Although some debris from Katrina remains, the island itself has shown signs of recovering from the hurricane.

"Some of the pines are coming back. Live oaks have survived very well. There's been quite a bit of erosion, but the marsh grasses are coming back steadily and it's looking very good," said Ali Rupp, a biologist with the Department of Marine Resources.

It will also look a bit cleaner now, thanks to the efforts of determined volunteers.

The volunteers were scheduled to move eastward on Wednesday. The next project involves a similar clean-up on the Pascagoula river.