Local lawmakers want legal action for spillway damages

According to the Department of Marine Resources, fresh water from the Bonnet Carre Spillway damaged Mississippi’s seafood industry.  After being open for a record 123 days, Mississippi lawmakers have started the process of possible legal action.

Year after year, the City of Biloxi is led by its tourism and seafood industry. This year? Not so much. Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said, “When you look at what’s happened and those flags are still out there and that’s never been there. You grew up here, you’ve never seen those flags for that long and it’s not over yet.”

The effects are being felt throughout Biloxi, whether its hotels, shrimpers, fisherman, or even souvenir shops. News 25 caught back up with J.J. Pierotich, the owner of Sharkhead’s Souvenir City.  Back in July, News 25 spoke with Pierotich as his business was having their worst summer yet. “It never really did get better. Overall, we were a couple percent up through the end of June. Like I told you before, 31% off in revenue in July, 21% in August, and September still hasn’t stabilized, but it’s getting a little better.”

With the City of Biloxi and businesses feeling the pressure, lawmakers across the state are ready to take action. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann spoke with News 25 at length about the effects of the spillway and how he plans to take action. “It’s five years to get our oyster beds back, 50 percent of our shrimp are gone. So, this is a long-term issue. Every time this occurs it puts it off another five years. So, the time for us to struggle and either get a monetary relief or a legal action is now.”

While damages can help in the short term, Pierotich wonders if the lasting effects will continue to be felt for years to come. “I’m concerned that a lot of tourists that would normally come to Biloxi, when they started the whole deal went to another state, another town, and if they had a good experience, are we necessarily going to get them back next spring.”

Categories: Featured, Harrison County, Local News, News

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