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FEMA Gives $46 Million For Rebuilding Public Facilities

From: FEMA        Filed 9/14/06  GCN

More than $46 million has been approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to rebuild and restore Mississippi Gulf Coast public buildings damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

“These grants enable Gulf Coast communities to move forward with projects that provide essential services to citizens and help our total rebuilding effort,” said Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Interim Director Mike Womack.

Nearly $13 million will fund repairs to the Hancock Medical Center. The Bay St. Louis facility was inundated by more than three feet of polluted salt water which ruined medical and electrical equipment. The center’s 84,000 square foot roof, damaged by wind-blown debris, will be repaired and the facility’s two elevators will be replaced.

In Gulfport, the Mississippi State Port Authority will receive more than $13 million to replace and rebuild facilities and portions of the pier at the state dock. Two huge freezers were so severely damaged by the hurricane that they will be replaced. In addition, a 50,000 square foot area of the West Terminal pier must be rebuilt. More than $2 million will be spent to replace the pier decking and strengthen it to prevent damage from future hurricanes.

More than $3.5 million will be used by the South Gulfport Wastewater Treatment Plant to recover from salt water damage caused by Katrina. Four feet of salt water drenched the facility destroying electrical and mechanical equipment and wiring. The FEMA funds will be used to remove and replace pump stations, control panels, and related equipment. Hazard mitigation measures will also be put in place to significantly reduce the risk of similar damage occurring in future disasters.

“Repairing and replacing local infrastructure, helping local community public systems work again, is a fundamental role of FEMA,” said Nick Russo, federal coordinating officer for the Mississippi disaster recovery.

Elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, the natural gas system in Pascagoula was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge. Saltwater flooding destroyed more than 800 gas meters and a main gas pipe ruptured in various places throughout the system. FEMA will help the city replace the damaged hardware with a $1.4 million grant.

Nearly $4 million will pay for repairs to the Biloxi sewer collection system. More than 2,600 residential homes and hundreds of commercial structures were pushed off their foundations and disconnected from the system. In addition, sewer lines were either unearthed or damaged and sewer drain covers were either destroyed or damaged. The FEMA funds cover the cost of the sewer pipe replacement and street, curb and sidewalk replacement stemming from the repair work.

The Biloxi storm water collection system also was damaged by the storm. FEMA will provide $1.5 million to repair damaged pipe and pay for repair of streets, curbs and sidewalks damaged in the repair process.

Also in Biloxi, the historic Point Cadet Hangar was more than 50 percent damaged by the hurricane. More than $1 million from FEMA will be used to build a new building of the same size to serve the same purpose of the original facility. The new structure will be built above the Advisory Base Flood Elevation.

The Mississippi Coast Coliseum, located about 1,000 feet from the coast shoreline, sustained extensive damage from the hurricane. FEMA is funding more than $2.4 million for repairs including interior walls, ceilings, floors, electrical and heating and air conditioning systems, and fencing and lighting repairs on the grounds. After the storm, the Coliseum housed search and rescue teams and served as a major distribution site for food, water, and ice. The Convention Center adjacent to the Coliseum currently houses the MEMA and FEMA Transitional Recovery Office.

In Pass Christian, a FEMA grant of more than $1.5 million will help restore the community’s sewer system. The hurricane storm surge and deluge flooded the system with sand and debris. The FEMA grant will restore damaged roadways, sidewalks and curbs associated with repairing systems manholes and sewer connections.

The power grid in Marion County sustained considerable damage from Katrina’s winds, rain and tornadoes. FEMA is contributing nearly $5.4 million to help the Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association pay for the restoration of about 1,400 miles of its power system that was completed in July, 2006.

The grants are part of FEMA’s Public Assistance program, which provides financial assistance to state and local governments and certain non-profit organizations for disaster-related clean-up and rebuilding efforts. The grants help rebuild or restore buildings and infrastructure to pre-disaster condition. While these grants are aimed at governments and organizations, their final goal is to help a community and all its citizens recover from devastating natural disasters. The state of Mississippi pays a cost share for these projects. These grant funds are administered by MEMA.

FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 31, 2003.

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