Not All Silt Debris Dredging Covered By FEMA - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Not All Silt Debris Dredging Covered By FEMA

The water near Ben Gibbens' neighborhood used to rise and fall with the tide from the St. Louis Bay. But mud and silt dumped there by Katrina has clogged the estuary, causing flooding in the neighborhood.

"The stream before Katrina was probably three to five feet deep. Now, it's probably three to five inches deep," Gibbens said. "Now when there is a heavy rain, the street floods cause there's no place for the water to go to."

The bayous and lagoons are part of the natural drainage system. And just like man made drains, when the water flow stops, there's flooding.

"It's just growing more and more. It's completely taken over the lagoon," resident Edward Prados said.

Prados moved to a place on Bass Lagoon six weeks before Katrina.

"You'd see crabs, you'd see fish, it was beautiful. That's the reason why we moved back here and we want it back, we just want it back."

The peaceful beauty of the lagoon isn't Prados' only concern. He too worries if the area isn't dredged, the continued build up of silt and sediment will cause serious flooding.

"We're like the lost paradise back here and nothing's happening. Somebody should come back here and at least look over the situation and consider dredging."

Dr. Bill Walker with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources says he's encouraged that FEMA has authorized dredging sediment out of public marinas. He hopes, eventually, the same thing will be done along the bayous, lagoons and estuaries across the coast.

But according to FEMA, it's unlikely the federal government will pay for additional dredging.

FEMA Spokeswoman Marcia Hill told WLOX News, "All eligible areas for dredging have already been identified. Silt is not considered marine debris, unless it is blocking navigation in a previously maintained waterway."

The Department of Marine Resources is urging residents who live near a clogged bayou to contact their County Supervisor to see if it's on the dredging list. If not, FEMA says any dredging will have to be done by county or city governments.

By Al Showers

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