Following is a New Year’s column that appears in the Dec. 29, 2006 edition of The Bay Press.
By Mayor A.J. Holloway
In the sweltering days after Hurricane Katrina, amid the fields of debris where neighborhoods once stood, hundreds of water pipes once connected to homes were spewing water.
Members of the Biloxi Fire and Public Works departments, many of whom either lost their homes or suffered severe damage, faced the staggering task of turning off each of these leaking pipes, which were crippling the city’s water pressure, and, thus, diminishing the city’s firefighting capability.
We have a lot of work to do, Fire Chief David Roberts told his firefighters early on, and it seems like it’s overwhelming, but today we’re going to go out and take care of as many of these broken pipes as we can. Then, at the end of the day, we’re going to rest, and we’ll wake up early tomorrow and do the same thing. And we’ll do it the day after that – and we’ll stay at it until we get it done.
In a matter of time — days, in fact — water pressure was restored. Indeed, the city and the Mississippi Department of Health certified the water as safe to drink citywide 30 days after the storm.
I’m proud of the work that the city rank and file has done in the past 16 months, and Biloxi residents are going to see the results of the work that has quietly continued behind the scenes.
While we were dealing with issues like water service, debris removal and streets and drainage, we were also chipping away at the time-consuming process required to make major improvements.
As a result of this work, you’ll see tens of millions of dollars in major improvements take shape in 2007.
You’ll see work at Point Cadet Marina, the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, the Biloxi Sports Complex, the Biloxi Community Center, on U.S. 90 and on 630 streets throughout your city.
You’ll see the real Reviving of the Renaissance — and it’ll be the same things that you were seeing before the storm: improved city services and facilities; safe and clean neighborhoods, state-of-the-art schools; and boulevards and neighborhood streets that move traffic and drain effectively. In short, you’ll see the return to an excellent quality of life that you so rightly expect and so richly deserve.
It’s going to take time, but just as those firefighters and Public Works staffers demonstrated in restoring your water service in the days and weeks after the storm, we’re up to the challenge, and we’re going to make it happen.
I encourage you to be a part of the excitement. Get involved. Take steps to improve your situation, your home or your business. Make progress. Make 2007 a year of major accomplishment.
God bless you and God bless Biloxi, and Happy New Year.