Lee takes his toll on coast shorelines

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Tropical Storm Lee did a lot more than just bring rain and flooding to the coast. He also left his mark on piers, boat launches, and beaches.

Front Beach in Ocean Springs looked like a war zone Monday morning with waves pounding against the new sidewalk, and the beach itself buried under the turbulent surf.  Debris was piled up as far the eye could see.

Lauren Quave and her friend didn't like the view.

"I think it's really crazy to think that this is only a tropical storm, that it can do this to the beach. And imagine what a hurricane would do if we were out here? Water would be all the way over there," Quave said. "We come out here to lay out all the time and it's nothing like when we come to lay out."

Further east, at the Gulf Park Estates Marina, it was hard to tell the pier from the parking lot.  At the Lake Mars Boat Launch, the weather was so violent, a boat was dashed against the rocks. The launch itself has been silted in, after months of dredging work.

Other beaches in Jackson County that have been hammered by Tropical Storm Lee are privately owned.  Therefore, the county can't come in and fix them. But that's okay with the residents who live here, because Mother Nature lends a hand.

One of those beaches is Bel Fountaine, where Ed Daniel has lived for 17 years.  He explained the process.

"The beach rebuilds itself," Daniel said.  "The sand comes back in after the storm. It always has. So basically that's it. We get no help because it's a private beach."

So when will work begin on rebuilding the beaches? It won't happen anytime soon.

"This is the hurricane season, and we're probably in the heart of it right now," Jackson County Supervisor John McKay said. "It would be senseless to start hauling in truckloads of sand tomorrow and then have another hurricane next week, or the following week and erode it all away again."

County officials say it's too early to say just how much the clean-up and repairs are going to cost, at least until work crews can get out and assess the damage from one end of the coast to the other. That process should begin Tuesday.

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