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City laments slow progress in cleaning up

As in some other communities in disaster-stricken areas,Brookhaven leaders are growing frustrated with the federal responseto problems following Hurricane Katrina.

Mayor Bob Massengill voiced displeasure with slow federal actionto the city’s request for assistance with debris cleanup.

“I’m irritated this is taking longer than it should,” Massengillsaid during a city board meeting Tuesday night.

Last Tuesday, aldermen approved a measure to contract with theFederal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Army Corps ofEngineers for debris cleanup in the city. Brookhaven was among thefirst to approve the contract, but Massengill said there has notbeen any action.

“I can’t get them to give me a response,” the mayor said.

Massengill said he and Third District U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering’soffice had been told Brookhaven “had not been forgotten” forcleanup. The mayor said those comments were “not veryheart-warming” as far as prospects for assistance.

Massengill said the city will continue to clean up debris wherepossible. However, city crews are not equipped to handle some largedebris areas.

The mayor requested authority to rescind the earlier contractfor cleanup if the city has not gotten a positive response byFriday. He said the city could then contract with another agent forcleanup.

The board took no action on the mayor’s request but could actFriday when it meets to extend the emergency declaration for thecity. The declaration has been extended for one week at a timesince the Aug. 29 hurricane.