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Governor Seeking Money to Restore
Coast's Barrier Islands

by Keith Burton - GCN

Governor Haley Barbour is in Washington this week seeking more federal Katrina aid including money to restore the Coast's barrier islands.

Hurricane Katrina did more than destroy the homes and businesses along the Mississippi Coast, the hurricane also severely damaged the islands, which just offshore some ten miles from Biloxi, provide protection from storms.

Ship Island, the home of the Civil War-era Fort Massachusetts, was so badly damaged that only portions of the island remain. The same is true of Deer Island, which sits just offshore from Biloxi, which provides a buffer for Biloxi's eastern shoreline and home of the city's billion dollar casino industry.

The Clarion Ledger reports that Barbour will request about $9 billion for environmental restoration, transportation. He is also requesting money for rebuilding the port of Gulfport after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Coast on Aug. 29.

The new request was not included in a $29 billion federal package approved by Congress for states affected by hurricanes.

But the bulk of the money Barbour is seeking will be for rebuilding the barrier islands.

"Right now, we're just trying to make them aware, here are the things we haven't asked before, here's why we haven't," Barbour said of his two-day trip.

Joe Ziegler, chief of staff for the state's Department of Marine Resources, said rebuilding the islands is crucial to restoring coastal wildlife habitats and offering protection from future hurricanes.

"If we don't replenish the barrier islands, they're going to become sand bars, not islands," Ziegler said.


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