Residents in East Biloxi continue to face unbearable living conditions due to a fiasco of a road project that has left over fifty miles of city streets torn up awaiting repair. East Biloxi residents have dealt with this situation for over three years and the project is expected to take years more to complete. What were once roads are now pock marked dirt trails.
Driving through endless dust and potholes has become an unwelcome routine for the community in East Biloxi. The soil and dust from the road project is carried by wind and rain into people’s air conditioners, homes, cars and yards eventually ending up in local waters clogging and polluting them in violation of the Clean Water Act.
Gulf Restoration Network has taken legal action on the matter. GRN filed suit against the contractor, Oscar Renda , for storm water violations of the Clean Water Act. This contractor has failed to use proper storm water controls. Sediment now flows into local bayous and creeks with every new rain, polluting the water and clogging drainage. There is no quick end in sight for this project that has disrupted so many lives. The attorneys for GRN will continue to work with the contractor to see these problems are corrected and the damage is mitigated.
Jackie Wilson, a long time resident of Nixon Street in Biloxi, spoke last weekend at a meeting of local citizens. Ms. Wilson expressed her concerns quite succinctly, saying “they are trying to move us out”. This is a sentiment often expressed by people who live north of the railroad tracks in East Biloxi. Residents’ concerns over displacement are an everyday reality in East Biloxi. After Katrina, there was no concerted effort or funding to encourage longtime residents to rebuild under new stringent building codes. In fact, much of East Biloxi is still filled with large swaths of vacant lots 12 years post-Katrina. So, it’s no surprise that current residents are worried that they are being pushed out of their own neighborhoods.
Numerous businesses have closed or seen drastic slumps in business because customers won’t drive down the decrepit streets. At the same community meeting, a school bus driver described how sad it was to watch children walk every day through huge dust clouds as they navigate the broken up streets to get home from school. This issue has become an everyday nightmare for anyone who lives, works, or drives in East Biloxi.
If this construction dust is constantly visible in the air throughout East Biloxi, it is entering the waterways. It is apparent that the contractor, Oscar Renda, is in violation of the Clean Water Act. Biloxi bayous are silting up with construction dust, storm drains are blocked with construction dust, and the proper stormwater controls during construction have not been implemented. There has been little concern over the effects this is having on residents and ecosystems. While East Biloxi residents see no end in sight, GRN hopes to remediate this issue in a timely manner that will help residents get their lives back to normal.