Hurricane Zeta shrimp boat a puzzle for everyone
ST. MARTIN, Mississippi (WLOX) – An early morning fuel spill on a shrimp wharf has made things worse for neighbors on St. Maarten.
The smell of the fuel spill on Friday, along with the noise of the clean-up, was bothersome to residents who lived on the north side of the canal. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Coast Guard responded to the spill early Friday morning. The clean-up was to be completed by the end of the day.
Residents who live near the docks of a canal off Old Fort Bayou have said they have complained about shrimp boats in the past to no avail. They say the boats, owned by Captain Ben’s Boat Dock, are blocking their access to the canal. They also complain about noise, odors and small spills from bilge pumps.
And that was before Hurricane Zeta left one of Benjamin Nguyen’s boats in one of the nearby yards in October.
For Nguyen, the storm killed his business selling shrimp from the wharf.
“Almost everything took everything away from me,” he said on Friday as an environmental team worked to clean up the spilled diesel fuel around his boat, Captain Ben 4. “It ruined my pier, it messed up my boat ashore, flooded all my trucks and cars I didn’t think it would be that bad, but it was like a 12 foot surge.
Neighbors complain he hasn’t done a good enough job of mooring his boats for the storm. Now Captain Ben 3 is in Dona Stephens’ backyard.
“I asked to move the boat itself, and I was told I had to allow them to get it back, provided they did so in a timely manner,” Stephens said. “And I haven’t been able to convince anyone to define what a ‘timely manner’ is.”
Stephens has lived on his property since 1973 and relishes the view of Fort Bayou from the swing hanging from an oak tree in his backyard. But that view was spoiled, she said, by the boats from Nguyen that moved in about three years ago. She wonders if her business fits the C-2 zoning of the land and other disturbances caused by shrimp boats.
Friday’s fuel spill increased her level of frustration that was already high with the stranded shrimp boat.
“We can’t get help here from anyone,” she said. “I contacted disaster relief and all they did was offer me an SBA loan. This is not a problem. It’s someone else’s problem. Someone needs to get this boat off my property.
Nguyen said he contacted rescuers, but no one can get a barge into the shallow channel. Stephens said the canal had not been dredged since it was cut off in the 1960s.
Nguyen said he was running out of options.
“If anyone has anything that can help me and try to get this boat off the ground, I’m all ears,” he said. “Send me a message on Facebook or whatever.” I am open to anything to try to get this boat off the ground.
He said that includes letting someone cut up the boat and retrieve it.
“Anyone who wants can come and get him and he only pays what it costs. I’d be cool with that too, ”he said.
Stephens said she spoke unsuccessfully to Jackson County Supervisor Troy Ross and DMR about her complaints.
Ross said he met with DMR on the issue of landowner access to the canal, but found no solution. One of the barriers, he said, is competence. Once he got on the water he said it was out of his hands.
Stephens’ frustration has grown since the pandemic delayed doing anything.
“Troy Ross’ excuse was COVID and DMR’s excuse was COVID,” Stephens said scowl. “And we can be dealing with COVID for years now, and at some point COVID has to stop being the excuse for no one to do their job. “
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