PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Dozens of shrimp boats are docked once again at what is considered the most popular commercial pier in Pass Christian. The C-2 Pier reopened at the Pass Christian Harbor this week. It replaces the 40-year-old structure that was old, rotting, and on the verge of collapsing.
City officials gathered Friday to celebrate the pier's comeback. As they cut the ribbon on the new C-2 Pier, behind them, the crew of the "Cajun Maid" continued to fill coolers with fresh shrimp.
"We come in every day. It's fresh," one of the shrimpers told a customer.
"Oh good," she replied.
The boat returned to the commercial pier as soon as it reopened.
"Nice to be back in our new pier, real nice pier. And great to have a place for your boat and have a place to park when you get in," said Boat Captain Billy Barnett.
For three months, 50 boats were displaced while the old pier was being torn down and the new one was being built. Shrimpers lost a hot spot to sell their catch right in the middle of shrimp season.
"It's never a good time because it's what they do for a living, but it was to the point where we didn't have no choice," said Willie Davis, Pass Christian Harbor Master.
The original pier was the oldest in the Pass. Built 40 years ago, it survived every storm since Hurricane Camille, even Katrina.
"When I came back after the storms, I figured this one would be gone. Everything else was gone and this one stayed,"' said Davis.
When asked if he was surprised, Davis replied, "Yeah, it did. I don't know how it survived."
What Mother Nature couldn't damage or destroy, time certainly did. Over the years, the structure started to deteriorate.
"Several times we've actually been having to brace it up, putting little pilings here and there to try to keep holding it up and keep temporarily patching it. Finally, we got the funds to where we can go ahead and just rebuild the whole pier," said Davis.
The pier has new pilings, decking, stringers, and the power boxes are six-foot higher than before.
"We got it built now so that'll help in the future," said Davis. "It's for safety reasons also. We don't have to worry about people walking on the pier and getting hurt on it. So it's actually a win-win all the way around."
Billy Barnett believes the new pier will lure even more customers to the harbor.
"This is home, been here for years and years and years," said Barnett.
When asked how it felt to be back, he replied, "Great! We're doing a lot of business this morning, business picking up every day."
The city received nearly $300,000 from FEMA and Tidelands funds to rebuild the commercial pier. All 40 slips are filled and Davis said boat owners usually line-up for a spot to dock their vessels.