MEMA director sees progress firsthand

Greg Michel, who only 90 days ago was appointed the new head of MEMA, was in Biloxi last week to get a firsthand look at Biloxi’s massive infrastructure work.

“This was my first opportunity to view the project in the field,” said Michel, who served for nearly 30 years in Mississippi National Guard and as commander of Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg where he was involved in disaster and response to the 2017 Pine Belt Area tornado. “Seeing intricate and complex projects like this first hand provided me helpful insight when mitigating issues between the municipality and FEMA.”

Gilich gave Michel, along with Clayton French MEMA public assistant director, a tour of the infrastructure areas north and south of the CSX railway. Workers are replacing water and sewer lines and installing drainage systems before installing sidewalks, curbing and repaving streets. The northern part of the project, where contractor Oscar Renda is responsible for 55 miles of streets, has a contracted deadline of Dec. 21, but contract extensions are expected.

South of the railway, crews with Hemphill Construction are continuing to progress on the 800-day, $23 million contract. They are finishing up with the storm drain on Hopkins Boulevard and Seal Avenues and will soon be preparing those roads for the base layer of asphalt.

“It is a very complicated project,” Michel said, “and Mayor Gilich along with his team are working as hard and as efficiently as this agency has seen since the project began.  As a bonus, Mayor Gilich provided me some history about the coast while we toured the project. It’s always a pleasure to get to the Mississippi Gulf Coast!”
Gallery: See images from the visit
Video:  See a video of the infrastructure progress