LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - More than a year after Hurricane Isaac demolished or heavily damaged half of the structures at the Long Beach Harbor, there are signs of recovery. The Port Commission made emergency repairs shortly after the storm. Now, permanent repairs are underway. The restoration work is expected to lure boaters and business back to the harbor.
Justin Roland can see and hear the sounds of recovery going on right beside his bait business "The Tackle Box". For more than a year now, all he has seen is sales sinking.
"There's a little bit of foot traffic, but it's limited to those who are actually using the boat launch. Because the fishing piers haven't been repaired and rebuilt," said Roland.
And one of his biggest sources of revenue, the fuel dock, was also destroyed when Hurricane Isaac lashed out at the Long Beach Harbor.
"I can understand their frustration," said Long Beach Port Commission President Phil Kies.
The Long Beach Port Commission also lost money when Isaac knocked-out the power and water service at the harbor and ripped apart the piers. Dozens of boats moved out, leaving the commission $100,000 in the red. Commission President Phil Kies has fielded many complaints and questions from boaters and fishermen.
"Why don't you have it repaired? Why don't we have finger piers? Why don't we have better electrical and everything? I said. 'It takes time,'" said Kies.
That time is finally here. Three contractors are on site to restore the battered harbor. One team is repairing two fishing piers and boat slip piers, along with making extensive electrical repairs and upgrades to better protect the system from future storms. Another contractor is repairing the north boat launch ramp, and a third crew is building new finger piers.
"Very gratifying. I'm down here almost every day just watching them and smiling," said Kies. "When we get the money and we get the time. And we get the contractors. You're going to get it all back. I think we're going to have a much improved harbor than we had before Isaac."
And that's a big relief for Justin Roland, who wants to see lines being cast and boats dropping anchor at the harbor once again.
"There's no doubt in my mind once the repairs are complete that business will be restored as it was. It's just a matter of time," said Roland.
Next month, another contractor is scheduled to start repairs to the fuel dock and sewage pump-out station. Two final projects, restoring rip-rap to shore up both jetties and dredging, are set to begin before the end of the year.
All the repairs will cost about $1.5 million, and they should be done by early spring. FEMA is paying 75 percent, and the rest will be split between the state and the city.