None of the councilmembers we talked to say they believe the city deliberately did anything wrong when it began clearing out Turkey Creek last week. They say the city is just trying to bring relief to the church and homes that sit on the flood prone creek. However, the clean up of Turkey Creek is now halted, and plastic fencing is in place along the banks to stop erosion. The Sierra Club says the City of Gulfport created erosion when it cleared away the vegetation with heavy equipment. But one councilmember says that's a matter of interpretation. "Their term of damaging is probably not the same as our term of damaging. I think we're correctin' problems and diggin' up things outta the canal that need to be taken out of there," says Ward 5 Councilmember Ricky Dombrowski.
Councilmember Billy Hewes says the Sierra Club's lawsuit threat is an example of the club wanting its cake and eating it too. "The Sierra Club and the NAACP need to make up their mind whether they want this flooding problem to be alleviated or whether they wanna complain and obstruct the solution to this that the city of Gulfport's tryin' to get it done. If everybody in the Sierra Club had their way about it we'd still be usin' outhouses," says Hewes.
Councilmember Jimmie Jenkins wouldn't talk about the Sierra Club, but he did say he's sure the city will clean up the creek by the book and get the necessary permits from the proper agencies. "I understand the administration met with some of those agencies this morning to get the proper permits and I've been assured by the administration that any work on Turkey Creek or anywhere else from this day forward will be coordinated with the proper agencies."
Mayor Ken Combs says that's exactly what will happen. He says he and other department heads will meet with DEQ, DMR and the Corps of Engineers representatives this Thursday to determine what the city needs to do to properly and legally clean out Turkey Creek.