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US: Biloxi Axes Corps, Ashbritt

December 14th, 2005

More than 100 days since Hurricane Katrina stormed through South Mississippi, evidence of her wrath still lines the streets of Jackson County.

"It saddens my heart that people have to live this way," District 4 Supervisor Frank Leach says.

It is estimated that Jackson County had some 8 millions cubic yards of debris from the storm. Supervisor Tim Broussard says not even half of that has been picked up.

"Lack of progress. It's been more than three months and quite honestly I think most of us thought the job should have been done by this period of time," District 3 supervisor Broussard says.

But pace isn't the only problem. The board is also frustrated that the corps hasn't helped demolish some 3000 damaged homes. It was something they say the corps promised to do.

"All the corps has promised from day one is that they will get around to it," Broussard says.

"Here it is the 13th day of December, and as far as I know, there is not one parcel of land that the corps of engineers and their contractor Ashbritt has picked up," Leach adds.

So the board is looking for a new contractor to cleanup the county, hopefully this time someone local.

"We have a number of people in this county who have literally begged for the opportunity to work," Leach says.

Broussard says it's not going to be totally free.

"We understand that it's going to cost us some money. We're going have to scramble around. We're going to have to figure out what capital projects we're just going to have to let go this year. But I think if we can control what goes on and who gets hired, overall it's not only going to be the best decision, but it will be the only practical one."

They say it's the only way to get Jackson County cleaned up and back on track as soon as possible.

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