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Coast Guard, FEMA working to clear post-Katrina debris

The U.S. Coast Guard is working to clear Mississippi’s waterways near the Gulf Coast and inland after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the region.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has given the Coast Guard two major assignments.

First, it has a $230 million project to remove debris from waterways extending south from Interstate 10 to one-half of a mile into the Gulf of Mexico. Then, it has a $1 million assignment to remove debris from waterways north of the interstate.

FEMA says Katrina’s winds and storm surge swept debris in the water when it hit last Aug. 29. Now, the Coast Guard has the task of removing and disposing of an estimated 1.15 million cubic yards of waste, including automobiles, large appliances, railroad cars and houses.

FEMA says nearly 98 percent of the state’s land-based debris have been removed.

The federal government is paying for marine debris removal until next May 15.

FEMA began its marine debris removal project last November when it formed a multi-agency team to evaluate the task.