Long Beach Harbor Struggling to Rebuild Due to Confusion with Environmental Permits

Contributor: Sarah Duffey
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Updated: 11/25/2013 7:37 pm
In September, Long Beach was awarded F.E.M.A. money to rebuild its harbor after it was severely damaged in August of 2012 by Hurricane Isaac. Now, F.E.M.A. is telling the city to stop construction because they will not be paying for it. William ‘Billie’ Skellie Jr., Mayor of Long Beach, says, "F.E.M.A.'s not wanting to fund a good deal of what we've done. That's where we are right now, trying to get this all flushed out and get our environmental permits that we missed, try and get it straight and finish up this work." F.E.M.A. says the city did not file the right environmental permits needed to build new piers and repair a gas line. Mayor Skellie says he doesn't understand the holdup, when the harbor is being rebuilt in the same place. Skellie also says, "Taking a piling down, and putting a piling back in the same place, not going in a new area, same place, same footprint, and have the trouble that we seem to have with the environmental issues."

Mayor Skellie's biggest concern is that not getting the fuel station back up and running will cause a loss of business. Skellie states, "Part of the service is fuel. You know, for the larger boats in most cases, and when they can't get ready access to fuel, it makes them not want to be a customer in your harbor." Earlier today, Mayor Skellie met with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (M.E.M.A.) to obtain state support in getting the conflict resolved, but M.E.M.A. says that due to the nature of the permits, the dispute is out of their hands. The city will now contact state representatives in Washington in order to put pressure on F.E.M.A. to fix what the city calls a misunderstanding. Skellie also says, "I'm past trying to do it here anymore." Skellie says that without fuel, the harbor is losing money and tenants. He predicts the harbor has lost 2,000 dollars already this month.
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