Response to Hurricane Katrina
Boil Drinking Water
EPA has conducted more than 2,900 incident responses since deploying emergency response personnel following the destruction left by Hurricane Katrina along the Mississippi and Alabama coastline. An incident response is defined as an investigation of a National Response Center Report, contacting facilities, and reporting hazmat debris while conducting land or water assessment in the affected areas.
Assessment and Removal Team Activity
EPA is operating under three divisions that were formed to address Hancock (Division A), Harrison (Division B), and Jackson, MS and Mobile and Baldwin, AL (Division C) counties, which are the most affected areas along the coast. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is serving as liaison between EPA and the three divisions. Coastal MS experienced storm surge flooding of 18 to 22 feet above normal tide levels and significant rainfall amounts during Hurricane Katrina.
Division A – Hancock County, Miss.
Teams conducted operations in the Port Bienville, Pearlington, Waveland and Edwardsville areas.
The team affixed a large tarp to a portion of the roof and the side of a restaurant to mitigate the odor and public health issues associated with rotting food still located inside the building. The rotting food inside the building has interfered with relief operations staged nearby. This tarp is intended as a temporary measure until the rotten food inside the building can be removed.
The team also assessed and recovered approximately 100 items and recovered a 5-gallon plastic tote of ammunition.
Division B – Harrison County, Miss.
Teams continue to remove Hazmat debris in the D’Iberville, Gulfport and Pass Christian area.
Division C – Jackson County, Miss., and Baldwin and Mobile Counties, Ala.
A team collected five drums from Mobile Bay and moved them to the Division Collection Point. Two additional drums at this same location were not recovered due to dense vegetation/ trees, and recovery of these drums will likely require a bull dozier. Team also monitored segregation of hazmat from debris piles at the Macland, Dolphin, and Apple White debris collection facilities.
An EPA mobile drinking water laboratory, stationed in Gulfport has processed more than 928 drinking water samples and continues to analyze new samples each day.
The Waste Water Treatment situation continues to improve. In Mississippi, the Delisle Waste Water Treatment Plant is now operating normally and East Biloxi is still operating primary treatment only. The state of Alabama reported that Dauphin Island's Wastewater Treatment plant is now operating at limited capacity. This means that all municipal wastewater treatment facilities in Alabama and Mississippi are now considered to be operational.
The Air Monitoring Support Team has collected 48 PM 2.5, 48 PM 10 and 31 asbestos samples. All Air data results will be coordinated with EPA’s Emergency Response Team. They also are operating three sites near large burn areas at the Harrison County Unified Command Center, Biloxi Fire Station and the Long Beach Fire Station (also in Harrison County).
Lift Stations Branch
EPA has been tasked by FEMA to assist numerous towns along the Mississippi Gulf Coast to temporarily solve municipal wastewater problems as a result of Hurricane Katrina. These towns have included Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, Gautier, Gulfport, Laurel, Long Beach, McClain, Moss Point, New Augusta, Ocean Springs, Pascagoula, Pass Christian, Picayune, Waveland, and three separate water authorities. Tasks have focused on clearing collection systems filled with sand and debris, installing bypass pumps to substitute failed pump stations, and a variety other complex tasks. This work has reduced the amount of wastewater exposure to the public and disaster relief individuals while also helping city officials evaluate their systems and provide them with the time needed to respond with permanent replacements and repairs.
NPL Sampling Team
The Region 4 Science and Ecosystem Support Division (SESD) will collect soil, sediment, surface water and groundwater samples in the vicinity of potentially impacted National Priorities List (NPL) sites in the region to determine if storm-related releases occurred or, in the case of sites with operating remedial systems, make determinations as to the functionality of the systems.
An additional Community Involvement Coordinator was deployed to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to assist with the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) and overall environmental communication efforts. CICs have also assisted with the development of the Long Term Strategy Debris Plan for Hancock County.
CIC personnel met with Jackson County officials to finalize the county’s collection strategy for HHW and E-Waste. The CIC team is in the process of assessing the areas that EPA is going to focus their outreach efforts.