FEMA gives final OK for cemetery work; city seeks tree permits

The City of Biloxi, which this week received a final OK from FEMA to restore the storm-ravaged beachfront section of the Biloxi City Cemetery, expects to begin construction on the project in the next couple of weeks.

The $300,000 project will see repairs made to more than 200 headstones and 10 tombs in the beachfront cemetery. Dozens of gravesites, some dating back to the early 1800s, were ravaged by Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005.

The work, says Mayor A.J. Holloway, represents the restoration of an area that historians believe could date back to the 1700s.

The city, which has sought approval of the project since December, has coordinated approvals with FEMA, MEMA and with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. In December, workers completed a $50,000 project to replace a fence on the western and eastern perimeters of cemetery.

The new work — which will be performed by low-bidder Kenneth R. Thompson Builder of Greenwood and is expected to be completed in 180 days — will focus on repairs to a 40,000 square-foot section of the cemetery, the area facing U.S. 90, where a new brick and wrought iron fence will be replaced.

“The Biloxi City Cemetery is one of the oldest landmarks in our city,” Mayor A.J. Holloway said. “Graves there date back to the early 1800s and some historians maintain that burials took place there as far back at the 1700s. This is an important part of our history, and, like so many things, it will be an important part of our future.”

The process to begin the restoration of the cemetery actually began in mid-2006, with the city publishing a full-page legal notice in an attempt to locate owners of plots or family members of those buried in the cemetery. To see the notice, along with pre- and post-Katrina photographs of the damaged area of the cemetery, click here.

City continues to seek tree ROEs

City debris czar Jonathan Kiser reports that the city has removed nearly 2,500 of the 3,762 standing dead trees approved for cutting by FEMA, and property owners who have not yet done so are encouraged to fill out and return a tree right-of-entry permit, which would begin the process for removal of hazardous standing dead trees.

The city, which has set a May 31 to property owners to submit ROEs, is now working on removing 452 standing dead trees, and has another 71 ROEs awaiting FEMA approval.

The forms, which must be completed and notarized, can be obtained online or at the city’s Community Development, 676 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd; or Neel-Schaffer, 772 Howard Avenue. The forms can be notarized for free at either location.

To download a tree-removal ROE, click here.