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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Opens up Clogged Flood Canals at Bay St. Louis, Mississippi Caused by Hurricane Katrina


September 20, 2005

Tom MacKenzie,
678-296-6400 or 404-679-7291
Tom Valluzzi, USDA Forest Service, 202-641-3437

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Hurricane Katrina Response Team on September 15, began clearing flood canals in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. City Officials requested the Service’s support because of potential flood concerns in debris-choked ditches that are needed to prevent flooding.

A specialized team with chain saws and heavy equipment was dispatched from the Fish and Wildlife Service primary base at Lacombe, Louisiana, to clear about seven miles of primary flood control ditches and canals, as well as 40 miles of clogged secondary ditches. The debris consists of the remnants of houses and structures located close to the Gulf Shore along the entire coastline of the city that were damaged or destroyed by the storm surge that exceeded 30 feet. The debris was pushed about one-half-mile inland, landing in the ditches.

The Service’s team of skilled specialists are working hard to remove the debris as quickly as possible using bulldozers, excavators, and other specialized equipment before it rains.

As of September 18, the team had cleared three and one-half miles of the primary drainage ditch and had opened up one road.

A team of about 140 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service equipment operators, sawyers, Law Enforcement and operations personnel continues to clear roads and driveway access to residents in the Lacombe and Slidell, Louisiana area.

The Service continues to provide support (food, water, fuel, laundry facilities, a safe place for the night) for 100 Red Cross and International Red Cross volunteers, and 50 FEMA workers (volunteers from fire departments around the country to inspect damage to homes), local sheriff’s departments, Lacombe Fire District 3, and other emergency responders at Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Lacombe. Meals are also being provided to staff and patients at the Louisiana Heart Hospital. Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge is closed to public access, including formerly scheduled hunting and fishing opportunities, along with many other refuges throughout the gulf coast of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama.

For more information, visit the Service’s Hurricane Katrina Website at

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

Photos of Hurricane Katrina -- click here

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