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Multi-Million Utility Infrastructure Repair and Renovation Begins in Bay St. Louis
From: FEMA   Filed 8/29/07 GCN

A recent ground-breaking ceremony at the Bay St. Louis City Hall Annex marked the beginning of a four-part project totaling more than $51.6 million for repair and renovation to the city’s utility infrastructure that was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina exactly two years ago.

“This marks the initial phase of construction to repair and renovate the city’s potable water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer systems, as well as the natural gas lines and roads and sidewalks,” said Les Fillingame, Recovery Director for Bay St. Louis.

Bay St. Louis officials accepted the first project – and the lowest bid (from a local contractor) of more than $14.4 million that will cover work on several sections of the utility infrastructure.

“We are ready to bid the second phase while trying to have about $2 million worth of construction under way each month,” Fillingame said. “The city and community can’t manage any more than this [amount of disruption].”

The city official said the repair and renovation is quite important to Bay St. Louis downtown business owners. “They have managed well since Aug. 29, 2005, and the citizens of Bay St. Louis have become very proactive. They want to know what is going on and they want to be a part of its coming back.”

Fillingame said the city is relatively clean with little or no debris remaining here after massive debris removal began almost two years ago. “We are lucky the (U.S. Army) Corps of Engineers came in here and took that onus off of us.”

“We are thankful for FEMA and MEMA. We are going to spend many more times than the assessed valuation of this community,” he added. “FEMA works slow, but it certainly works. From my standpoint as Recovery Director, I wouldn’t begin to complain about the job FEMA and MEMA teams have done…They have been phenomenal.” 

MEMA disburses the funds obligated by FEMA to local government subdivisions.

Sid Melton, director of FEMA’s Mississippi Transitional Recovery Office, said the city’s utility infrastructure is vital to its citizens, “especially when it comes to their health and safety.”

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