Popp’s Ferry Causeway Park damages not repaired two years after storms

WLOX filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the city of Biloxi to see where the process of making repairs to the park stands two years after the storms
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 9:13 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2022 at 10:39 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Since 2020, many of the Popp’s Ferry Causeway Park’s featured amenities have been off limits because of storm damage.

WLOX filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the city of Biloxi to see where the process of making repairs to the park stands two years after the storms.

The Popp’s Ferry Causeway Park makes a good relaxing and fishing spot.

“Clearly it’s quiet and it’s over the water, I just wish the piers were better,” said Kenneth Elliott.

The piers Elliott is talking about are roped off, missing boards and railings. Large sections of the boardwalk or loop pier are no longer there.

“That [loop pier] was a good spot to just walk, enjoy nature, see the birds and fish. Some of these piers have just been destroyed. I’ve been fishing out here since they were good and I miss it,” said Elliott.

The damaged areas don’t look all that different now than they did in July 2020, right after Tropical Storm Cristobal. Hurricane Zeta added to the damages a few months later.

According to city damage assessments, the two storms caused more than $1 million worth of destruction. It’s money Biloxi hasn’t recouped, preventing repairs from going forward.

“We’re in the process of getting the price and funding mechanism so we can actually get the funding,” said Biloxi Mayor “FoFo” Gilich.

The stack of documents WLOX received from the City of Biloxi show the process of finding that funding has been ongoing for two years.

In an August 2020 letter to Gov. Tate Reeves, FEMA denied the state’s request for a major disaster declaration following Cristobal saying, “Damage from this event was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments.”

Later FEMA also denied eligibility of Zeta damages to the loop pier claiming “The information submitted by the city didn’t demonstrate that the damages claimed are directly related to the declared disaster.”

Both decisions were appealed and, according to city officials, no final ruling has been made. But efforts to find money for repairs didn’t stop there.

In 2021, Biloxi asked the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources for $1 million in Tidelands Funds, but didn’t get it. In July of 2022, the City Council approved a scaled back Tidelands Fund application for $500,000 to be used for the walkway project with an estimated completion date of December 2024.

Until word comes in about the Tidelands Funds, the city is moving forward with other repairs. Using existing city maintenance funding, a contract was awarded to make the fishing pavilion usable again and work is expected to begin soon.

Along with making repairs in the park, the city is also planning an expansion and modification of existing floating docks. Bids for that project will be opened for contractors in September.

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