Hurricane debris removal continues

Published 5:01 pm Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Coast Guard’s marine debris removal program will dredge the Mississippi Sound Monday for the third time since Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast.

So far, boats have hauled more than 78,000 cubic yards of hurricane debris out of coastal waters. Monday’s drag will focus on waters a half mile and four miles from shore.

Every time Corrie Eleuterius takes a tour group out into the Mississippi Sound he sees the trash that Katrina swept out into the water. On Wednesday, a compass helped steer the shrimp tour boat into the Biloxi channel. What the compass couldn’t navigate around were the hurricane obstacles still sitting on the floor of the channel.

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“I don’t know who’s in charge of cleaning the channel out. But so far it’s been me,” laughed Eleuterius.

The Coast Guard has swept the channel floor twice since Katrina dumped debris in the Mississippi Sound. However, the shrimp nets Eleuterius uses on his daily tour have still taken quite a beating this spring.

“We’ve probably pulled two or three dump truck loads of trash,” he said.

Sure enough, as his tour crowd watched, a shrimp trawl came out of the water, along with a tree limb, a deck chair and a ladle.

“Oh boy, that’s a Katrina treasure right there,” Eleuterius joked.

Chris Ryan works on one of the boats that help remove hurricane debris.

“You just clean it up and clean it up, and it just comes right back,” Ryan said.

Crews have pulled about 13,000 cubic yards of debris out of the Mississippi Sound. According to the state Department of Marine Resources, an additional 65,000 cubic yards of hurricane trash have come from inland waterways.

A DMR spokesperson says the plan is for marine debris removal to continue through the fall.