City continues short-term mitigation, debris removal

Debris teams continue hauling unbagged Hurricane Zeta debris from neighborhoods in all of Biloxi’s seven wards, says Biloxi Chief Administrative Officer Mike Leonard, and short-term mitigation is the order at Biloxi municipal facilities.

In all, more than 32,000 cubic yards of debris had been hauled from neighborhoods as of Wednesday afternoon, seven days into the city’s debris-removal effort. Hurricane Zeta left about 200,000 cubic yards of debris in Biloxi, according to an early estimate.

“Right now, we’re in the same position as homeowners and businesses,” said Biloxi Chief Administrative Officer Mike Leonard: “We’re talking to our insurance adjusters and making sure they see the damage, and beyond that we’re making sure to mitigate further damage, with tarps and whatever other necessary temporary repairs need to be made.”

Insurance adjusters have made initial inspections at two dozen city facilities, including fire stations, recreation and community centers, museums and other locations.

“The hardest hit city facilities appear to be the Bond House and the Visitors Center, and, of course, the ever-damaged Lighthouse Pier,” said Christy LeBatard, whose Engineering Department teams made initial assessments before adjusters stepped in.

The Bond House, a two-story Howard Avenue structure that houses the Biloxi Main Street, “had significant roof damage and windows broken, and the Visitors Center also had significant roof damage, which resulted in both of these buildings getting wet on the inside,” LeBatard said. “The Lighthouse Pier obviously is completely gone, but the mayor was able to salvage the remnants of the pier, not to be put back in place but so that we can reuse the lumber to make minor repairs on other piers.”

Leonard said the range of damage is wide and will be time-consuming to repair.

“Some of it’s minor, like the rollup door at the Mardi Gras den,” he said. “Elevators, for instance, are going to be another issue, at the pedestrian crosswalks and at the harbors. The elevator cars were raised, but the saltwater still entered the elevator pits.

“In the harbors, submerged debris has been removed and many boats have returned. At the Seafood Museum, the air-conditioners wouldn’t work and it’s because they were all blown over on the roof. Those things needed to be repaired quickly to avoid mold.

“Those are the things we’re doing right now, moving debris and working on short-term mitigation, with an eye to long-term mitigation. It’s the same as everyone is doing, or should be doing.”

Zeta news & notes

Traffic signals: Among the traffic signals that are still not functioning are Eisenhower Drive at C.T. Switzer Sr. and Rue Palafox; Pass Road at DeBuys Road and Beauvoir; and Howard Avenue at Oak Street. Treat those intersections, and wherever traffic signals are not functioning, as four-way stops.

Videos: To see a debris team in action, in double time on Wednesday, click here. To see the storm-debris mulching operation at the West Biloxi debris staging site, also from Wednesday, click here.