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Hurricane Isaac Clean-up Moves Forward, Rodents and All

By Rhonda Miller | Published 03 Sep 2012 12:52am | comments
Clean-up crews remove dead nutria, washed up by Hurricane Isaac, from Mississippi beaches.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is promising officials on the Mississippi Gulf Coast it’s “all hands on deck” with FEMA’s help in the recovery. from Hurricane Isaac. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports the clean-up has begun, including 16,000 dead Nutria - an animal like a rat, only bigger - washing up on the beaches.

"Well, I’m down on the beach where they’re shoveling the nutria. The guys are wearing khakis and boots and gloves and masks, and they’re just picking up these dead nutria with shovels, and they're  just dumping them in piles along the beach. It smells bad, there’s a lot of dead things, it smells pretty bad. They’re just going along and every few hundred feet they’re just making another stack of nutria."

"Well, when alive, they get to about 12 to 14 pounds, but these have been sitting out in the sun for a while, so they start swelling up."

That’s Terry Stilman of the Environmental Protection Agency managing the clean-up of the dead rodents on the Hancock County beaches in Bay Saint Louis and Waveland.

Some of the 16,000 waterlogged nutria  washing ashore are as big as small pigs. 

Harrison County Emergency Manger Rupert Lacy says the rodents are also washing up in Pass Christian, Long Beach, Gulfport and Biloxi.

"We have probably, out of our 26 miles of beach, we have most of it with rats, the nutria, washing up. We picked up yesterday 11 tons, and this morning, of course, what they’re doing is washing back up. So there’s a lot of them in the water. "

While the beach clean-up goes on, federal, state and local officials met at the fire station in Bay Saint Louis Sunday to discuss the continuing hurricane response.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the secretary of this nation’s homeland security Janet Napolitano."

"Well, I’m glad to be here. And I’m glad to see the kind of response that Mississippi has had to Hurricane Isaac. Gov. Bryant, you and your team have done, I think, just an excellent job. This is an all hands on deck event and it means that we are working together and must continue to work together as we move from response to recovery."

Napolitano toured areas of the Mississippi Gulf Coast damaged by Isaac.

Forty-eight counties in the state have been declared disaster areas, which helps bring in federal funds. And four counties - Hancock, Harrison, Jackson and Pearl River - have been declared eligible for FEMA assistance for business owners and individuals. Gov. Phil Bryant says Mississippians are eager to move ahead with the recovery.

"By this morning at 9 o’clock, when the individual assistance program went into effect, the disaster recovery centers and use of the website, which is some 679 Mississippians have applied for individual assistance. That is remarkable, so you can see how quickly things have been moving."

Up Highway 603 in Waveland, damaged furniture a block long is piled up by the side of the road in front of Day Star church.

"Cleaning up. We got about two foot of water in the building."

That’s Harold Cole, a member of the church, tossing more ruined goods on the pile.

"Cabinets, furniture, doors, sheetrock, you name it, countertops, everything. We pretty much got two feet of water in the building, so we lost just about everything."

Cole says many church members came to the building for safety during Isaac.

"We were in here during the storm and the water was coming in. It was coming over the road from this way and we were inside. We were ankle deep. We had a glass door.  We could see four inches higher on the outside of the door and it was coming in. We started with a little trickle and it kept getting deeper and deeper and.finally we had to just make a run for it.  Everybody had a lot of cars here in the parking lot.  We had to get out at 3:30 in the morning and move all the vehicles."

"It's only wet right here..."

Inside the church, the walls are ripped out up to four feet high and fans are blowing to dry the place out. Like many others in Mississippi, the members of this church, will assessing the damage, filling out paperwork and rebuilding one more time.


Clean-up crews remove dead nutria, washed up by Hurricane Isaac, from Mississippi beaches.



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