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Dauphin Island Gets $4M From FEMA for Sand Berm

Wed October 12, 2005 - Southeast Edition
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DAUPHIN ISLAND, AL (AP) Dauphin Island will get $4 million in federal funds to rebuild its west beach sand berm, which was washed away by Hurricane Katrina along with hundreds of resort homes.

Marvin Davis, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said Katrina intensified the need for protective sand berms on this barrier island at the mouth of Mobile Bay.

The new project will incorporate some of the previously planned berm construction, he said.

Mayor Jeff Collier believed the $4 million is in addition to the $4 million that FEMA already had promised after Hurricane Ivan last September. But Davis could not confirm that.

“Following a disaster this size, my assumption is there will be other projects on the island,” he said. But the latest funding announcement only pertains to Katrina damage.

The island will be responsible for approximately $600,000 in matching funds, Collier said. The section of the 14-mi. long island that a berm would protect included several miles of private beaches.

The 4-mi. long berm project has been in works since 2002, when Tropical Storm Isidore destroyed a berm built two years earlier.

New Orleans Attorney John Reed, who is president of the Dauphin Island Property Owners Association, said the association has discussed making approximately 3 mi. of beaches public if the government also paid for a beach renourishment project much larger than the emergency berm project.

The FEMA aid is a good use of public money, but it’s not enough to fix all the erosion problems on the island, Reed said.

“It’s a nice step,” Reed said.

Katrina’s storm surge pushed the island landward into fan-shaped deposits, a federal geological survey found.

In 1998, FEMA agreed to help fund an emergency berm to replenish Dauphin Island’s beaches eroded during Hurricane Georges, a Category 2 storm that came on shore near Biloxi. Construction of the berm didn’t start until 2000, held-up by while the town found a contractor and consented to paying $200,000 to match the $1.1 million in FEMA money.

FEMA also announced that Bayou La Batre will receive $1.12 million and Baldwin County will receive $2.69 million for debris removal.

In Baldwin, an estimated 212,000 cu. yds. (162,000 cu m) of disaster related debris needs to be removed.