EEECHO (Education, Economics, Environmental, Climate and Health Organization)

Gulfport, Mississippi

The Mississippi Heritage Trust listed Turkey Creek (the community) as one of Mississippi’s Ten Most Endangered Historical Places.

Hurricane Katrina — one of the five deadliest hurricanes to ever strike the U.S. — changed everything for Katherine Egland of Gulfport, Mississippi. Her home was severely damaged and her community left devastated.

“It was the drowning deaths of two of our dearest family friends to the rapid surge waters of Katrina that caused me so much anguish. Even climbing into their attic wasn’t a high enough refuge to save them,” she said. “That was the moment I took off my earrings,” Egland said of her propulsion into environmental justice activism.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cs3fkJcHHY
Stephen F. Eisenman, co-founder of Anthropocene Alliance, speaks to community leader, Kenneth Taylor, and resident Ms. Bobbie Maxwell, in Forest Heights, MS.

From tragedy sprang Education, Economics, Environmental, Climate and Health Organization (EEECHO) in Gulfport, co-founded by Egland who is also Chair of the NAACP’s  Environmental and Climate Justice Committee.

The group has brought impressive pressure in their fight to keep their community safe. Currently, they focus on halting development on critical wetlands that protect from flooding two historically-important African American communities, Turkey Creek and Forest Heights. The proposed development would sit on contaminated soil from a former fertilizer plant, placing vulnerable nearby communities at further risk.

Anthropocene Alliance’s partnership with EEECHO aided in securing pro bono legal representation, and bolstered by volunteer scientific experts supported through a partnership with the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ), an appeal hoping to stop any future development has been filed.

EEECHO’s fight to protect wetlands from development received coverage in the SunHerald, February 4th 2021.

As well, EEECHO led the effort of the Coalition to Protect and Preserve Forest Heights, in opposition to a proposed connector road that would destroy over 600 acres of wetlands and exacerbate flooding in the historic Turkey Creek Community. They are supported by organizations and individuals with an outreach of over 7 million. Their work resulted in the City of Gulfport’s inclusion of a long-awaited and much-needed levee in its recent budget.

EEECHO collaborated with residents and the Thriving Earth Exchange to develop the Assessing Flood Risks for Community-Led Action curriculum project on engineering with nature, importance of wetlands, and sea level rise. Students from Gulfport High School benefited from the lectures and wetlands site visits. The goal of this project was to bring objective scientific evidence and understanding to the questions and priorities of residents around flooding and air quality, so the community can use that science to make decisions and take action alongside elected officials.

Turkey Creek (the creek) was listed by American Rivers as one of the nation’s Ten Most Endangered Rivers in 2021.

Also gratifying for Egland and EEECHO is the community garden and fruit orchard on nine acres situated on a former neighborhood that flooded on a regular basis. After the federal buyout, all the homes were demolished and slabs were removed. The city owns the property and was instrumental in providing irrigation and support for the project.

America’s Most Endangered Rivers® Designated Turkey Creek One Of The Top 10 Most Endangered Rivers Of 2021, stating that new proposed developments could harm the creek, undo recent restoration efforts, and perpetuate injustice to Black communities.

Written by Kerri McLean

Links

We need these roads.’ Gulfport project moves forward to ease traffic at I-10, US 49

Ida flooded a historic Black community on the Coast yet again. Will anything change?

Gulfport MS residents fear pollution from port development

Black MS community opposes Gulfport development on wetlands

Gulfport organization takes students out of the class and into nature 

Port of Gulfport’s construction plans on hold after opponents file appeal

The Transformative Power of Water

Thriving Earth Exchange Project

Turkey Creek named among America’s Most Endangered Rivers

‘Systemic racism’ plagues neighborhoods near endangered MS Coast waterway, group says

Contact
Katherine Egland

Website/social media
https://eeechogulfport.wixsite.com/eeecho

Climate impacts
Flooding
Air pollution
Water contamination

Strategy
Nature-based solutions
Halting bad development
Fighting industrial contamination
Community farm/gardens

501c3 tax deductible
Yes

Accepting donations
No

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