Long Beach Harbor loses boats, revenues due to no electricity

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - It's been six weeks since Hurricane Isaac, and the Long Beach Harbor is still without power.  Because of that, dozens of boats have pulled up anchor and moved out. On Monday, the Long Beach Port Commission voted to hire Krol Electric of Gulfport to start the emergency repairs.

The move is considered crucial to the harbor's survival. Look around the Long Beach Harbor these days and you'll see a lot of empty slips. Of the 190 vessels that docked there before Hurricane Isaac, 48 of them have left the harbor.

"That's our life blood. Without boats in the harbor, we won't be able to operate," said Phil Kies, Long Beach Port Commission President. "I understand it. If I had a boat at the harbor that required electrical service, I'd move too."

Kies estimates that without those leases, the harbor has lost about $100,000 in lost revenues so far.

"We're down roughly about 25 to 30 percent right now. That's a big chunk of our income, so we need to get them back in here and get our income back up so we can keep our staff," said Kies. "We're self sufficient. If we don't have income, we're in trouble because we pay our staff, our utilities and everything."

City leaders blame salt water from Isaac's storm surge for zapping the harbor's electrical system.

"All of these contacts and wires and the breakers in here, they're all corroded and can't be used," Kies said as he opened one of the power boxes.

All 214-power pedestals on the piers have to be repaired or replaced, along with the wiring between the slips.

Barry Deshamp understands the frustration of having no electricity.

"I have to come down, crank-up my generator on the boat to actually get electricity. It's just a pain, but we're working through it," said Deshamp.

The charter boat owner calls the Long Beach Harbor home. He believes others will come back, now that the city is charging ahead with plans to make emergency power repairs.

"I think that's great!" he said. "Hopefully, it won't be that long before we get our power back."

"We have some very, very long term boat people in here that love Long Beach Harbor, and I think we owe it to them to make an effort to get it repaired," said Kies.

The repairs are expected to cost about $35,000. The funds will come from the port commission's budget. The city has sent FEMA the paperwork seeking reimbursement for the project.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.