Beach, Piers and Harbors After Gustav
By Keith Burton - GCN 9/4/08
For the Mississippi Coast Hurricane Gustav was no Katrina. For that every one is truly thankful. But the storm added to resident's jitters about living on the Coast and certainly left damages from minor to severe. While the area mainly only faced tropical storm winds and relatively modest rains, again it was the storm surge and subsequent flooding that caused problems, but no-where near that of Katrina.
Harrison County's 26 miles of sand beach has been closed as a result of the huge amount of debris that the storm deposited. This debris will take weeks to remove and officials with the county's Sand Beach Authority plan to get to work on removing the debris right away. (GCN photo right: Biloxi Beach Gustav debris)
But all along the shoreline, Gustav destroyed or badly damaged piers and harbors that had been rebuilt from Katrina. Gulfport has major damages to the Ken Combs pier and the docks near the new Gulfport Yacht Club (GCN photo left: Gulfport Yacht Club) Pass Christian's harbor as well as the harbor in Long Beach also suffered damages.
Everyone feared that the flooding over U.S. 90, the beach highway, would have destroyed the work underway this past year to rebuild the roadway. But fortunately, that was not the case. The road surfaces were covered with sand and the road was quickly put back into use within two days of the storm. There is still much left to be done to the roadway. The contractor rebuilding the road has until the end of December to finish rebuilding the road, but with Gustav's mess, that contract may have to be extended without penalty for the contract. No word on that yet from the Mississippi Department of Transportation. MDOT can be praised for the massive, and quick effort to reopen 90 so quickly.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) reports that Harrison County had four homes destroyed seven homes with major damage and 345 homes with minor damage. MEMA says the county also reported nine mobile homes destroyed and 328 mobile homes with minor damage. Eleven businesses in Harrison have reported minor damage. Twenty-two public buildings have major damage in Harrison. GCN is awaiting word on the damages to Hancock and Jackson Counties. (GCN photo right: U.S. 90 Biloxi)
FEMA officials working on the Coast were evacuated during Gustav. They returned to their Biloxi headquarters behind the Coliseum Wednesday. Damage assessments so far indicate that Coast communities will need additional recovery assistance for many of the repairs. How that translates into the work for the Katrina repairs is not yet clear. Knowing the federal rules bureaucracy, it will likely take a bit of time to sort out.
Meanwhile, Gustav did not interfere long with the Coast's casinos. In less than three days after the hurricane, the Coast's casinos from Biloxi in Harrison County to those in Hancock County, were back in operation, having suffered only minor damages or minor flooding and already, they are doing a brisk business. Most of the area's businesses are also back in operation as residents and employees that evacuated for the hurricane have returned.