Waveland frustrated with FEMA process

The city is going to go out on a limb to do repairs from Zeta on the Veterans Memorial themselves and hopes that FEMA will pay them back.
Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 6:37 PM CST
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WAVELAND, Miss. (WLOX) - Waveland officials are frustrated that despite their best efforts to get their municipal pier repaired, they are not making progress.

The city’s experience in dealing with FEMA should be paying off, but it has almost backfired on them.

“We did everything that we were supposed to do and then we find out months and months later ‘what you did was right, but you’re going to have to start back over,’” said Waveland Alderman Jeremy Burke. “It’s just very disheartening.”

Waveland officials knew that the permitting process to repair Garfield Ladner Memorial Pier after Hurricane Zeta could slow them down, so they got right on it. However, with permits from the Department of Marine Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in hand, FEMA told them not so fast.

“We’re having weekly meetings with MEMA and FEMA and everybody involved, but the permitting process just seems to be taking far too long,” the ward one representative said.

Waveland City Clerk Mickey Lagasse explained that the city requested $2 million from FEMA to repair the pier and another $1.8 million to mitigate against future damage. That would involve putting in some sheet pilings to protect the parking areas. Somewhere along the way, an additional permit from the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife became necessary.

Lagasse said it took two years to get the pier repaired after the previous hurricane, and all they wanted to do was be as fast as they could.

With every other city on the coast waiting for FEMA money to make similar repairs, Mayor Mike Smith wonders why the process can’t be streamlined.

“You know hurricanes is nothing new to the Coast,” Smith said. “So it would appear that these processes should be very simple, almost systematic, and it seems as time goes on, they get worse and worse. "

Smith said it makes the city look bad when it’s not their fault.

“The frustrating part for me and other city officials is that it appears that the city is not doing anything, but it’s all the FEMA process. The FEMA process, it’s just too long,” he said.

FEMA did approve $54,000 for the city to repair their Veterans Memorial just west of the pier. However, bids for the job came in at $120,000, so the city is going to do some of the work themselves and hire contractors for the rest. Lagasse said the city hopes to replace the area that washes out with stamped concrete to reduce future damage.

Lagasse said work on the memorial should begin in February. He said he has no idea when they might begin repairs on the pier, but he expects the city to be without one of their best assets for another summer of fishing.

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