Biloxi debris-removal efforts hit milestone

Biloxi’s debris-removal teams crossed the 2 million cubic-yard mark Wednesday, and Mayor A.J. Holloway says it appears that about 75 percent of the storm debris has been hauled from city streets and neighborhoods.

“It has been and continues to be an arduous and time-consuming process,” Holloway said, “but residents throughout our city are seeing a dramatic difference. My goal is to get as much of this debris hauled off as soon as possible and not let up until the job is done.”

The city has had as many as 300 debris-removal teams working initially seven days a week for 12 hours a day. The more than 2 million cubic yards of debris would cover a football field and stand 93 stories high.

The city has estimated that as much as 4 million cubic yards of debris was left in the wake of the Aug. 29 storm, but Holloway said that FEMA may not authorize work on some commercial properties.

The city has spent more than $30 million on debris removal since the storm, but the federal government’s reimbursement for 100 percent of debris-removal costs is scheduled to expire March 15.

Earlier this week, the city announced that March 1 is the deadline for property owners to sign right-of-entry forms, which permit the city to remove debris from their properties, pending FEMA approval.

“We’re encouraging property owners who have not done so to fill out and sign one of these agreements so we can move this process along,” Holloway said. “We’ve made great progress up to this point, but we need to stay on it.”

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