PASCAGOULA -- City leaders received welcome news that FEMA would forgive $5,167,750 in Hurricane Katrina debt.
The amount includes principal and interest.
After Katrina hit in 2005, the money was used on utilities and infrastructure, including streets, vehicles and repairs to public buildings, city comptroller Bobby Parker said.
"We had to fix or replace pretty much everything."
Initially, the FEMA loans were not forgiven because of changes in rules for disaster loans. "There were lots of hoops you had to jump through to meet forgiveness," he said.
City and county leaders across the Coast worked with the state's congressional delegation to get rules of debt forgiveness changed. "We were all pleading our case," Parker said.
And it helped. The rules were amended, and the city tried again.
"We had another round to see if we qualified," Parker said.
The city learned last week that under the new rules, the $5.1 million would be forgiven. The city still owes $2,412,726 in principal, but now has until 2035 to repay it.
"We needed this," City Manager Joe Huffman said. "This is big."