Nate leaves behind questions about rebuilding piers

Nate leaves behind questions about rebuilding piers

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Damage assessments from Hurricane Nate continue along the Coast, including an amenity that many believe is part of Coast culture - fishing piers on front beach.

It's pretty clear that Biloxi piers got hit hard. Officials say that the more than 10 piers on front beach and Back Bay had about $1.2 million in damage.

But, that doesn't intimidate Biloxi Chief Administrative Officer Mike Leonard.

"In most cases, the piers, such as the Porter Avenue pier, the substructure is still in sound condition. The pilings are still sound," Leonard said. "All we have to do is replace the decking and replace the handrails and we're back in business."

Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy is asking basic questions; like if rebuilding is even an option if it has to be done every time a storm comes through.

"It's nice to go down there and to fish. It's a way of life. It is a source of food for our residents. But, you know, it's a cost factor. We're responsible for spending the tax dollars wisely, and we've got to justify how we spend those monies," said Lacy.

Even if FEMA funds are available to help, it requires piers to be built back the same way as before; with few exceptions. Leonard says there's no option but to bounce back - federal help or not.

"Piers, and fishing, and Biloxi all belong in the same sentence," Leonard said. "We're going to rebuild the piers."

Officials have also discussed a newer concept of building the piers lower, closer to the water. That way, the piers would be submerged in the tidal surge and not damaged by the crashing waves.

However, that kind of work likely would have to be funded from other sources than federal money.

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