Hurricane Ivan Leaves Mess On Ship Island

Hurricane Ivan left its mark on Ship Island. The storm washed debris ashore,wrecked part of the pierand blew some holes in the lighthouse.

That hurricane damage will keep Ship Island off limits to the public for at least four to six weeks.

Storm churned waters made most of the mess on Ship Island. Ivan not only ignored the "No Wake" sign, he ripped it apart. The island pier fared better than expected, but will still keep work crews busy for weeks.

"Primarily, so far it's just getting the pier back together. Replacing the decking and some stringers here and there," said park maintenance employee, Joey Tyson.

Winds from reborn Tropical Storm Ivan rattled the Coast Guard tower during our tour of damage. Hurricane Ivan left some noticeable gaps in the commemorative lighthouse, but no serious structural damage.

Historic Ft. Massachusetts also weathered the storm well. The pond of water inside the fort is slowly seeping into the sand, while winds are drying the layer of mud and muck that now covers the brick floors.

"We did have up to about three feet of water inside the fort. But we today noticed that most of it is down. We've just got a layer of mud. And that's going to have to be cleaned out," Park Ranger Gail Bishop explained.

Erosion is an ongoing concern on Ship Island, especially along the north shore, which is closest to Fort Massachusetts. And while the impact of Hurricane Ivan wasn't nearly as bad as Hurricane Georges, the storm still managed to displace or wash away untold tons of sand from the north shoreline.

The south shore fared a little better, but Ivan's winds did level many of the dunes there.

Despite the mess on the island, park rangers echo a sentiment shared by many in South Mississippi.

"Well, this one was certainly lucky this time. We were very fortunate," said Bishop.

The storm damage to the pier means an early end to the summer season for Ship Island Excursions. The public ferry boat that normally runs through October, is now finished until next spring.