Battling Nate: Building up to avoid storm surge

Battling Nate: Building up to avoid storm surge

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Two well-known businesses in Biloxi battled hurricane Nate's storm surge with mostly positive results.

Dramatic photographs from surveillance cameras show the storm surge at Sharkheads Souvenirs on Highway 90 in Biloxi. The structure was saved by elevation.

"The floor level is at 28.8. The old Sharkheads was maybe 8 or 10 feet on the east side, about 14 or 15 feet on the four-story area. The difference has been phenomenal. It's the difference between having a happy day and fighting water in the store if the old store would have been there," said JJ Pierotich.

That meant no damage from the storm's tidal surge, with the exception of debris cleanup. The Pierotich family lost the old store in Katrina.

A lot of people questioned new elevation standards put in place following Katrina.

"I'm the newer generation. My father complained at that time. Now it's obviously so much better that they did that. We get through the storms so much better," Pierotich said.

Now, it's understood that elevation matters.

Over at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, McElroy's restaurant is 29.5 feet in the air. Mickey McElroy was another business owner who had to build to that elevation because of Hurricane Katrina's massive storm surge. After riding out Nate, he's happy about the elevation rules.

"If a Katrina comes, it's a major disaster. If a Nate comes, it's not that big of a deal to a place up as high as I am. While Nate hurt people in other areas, the elevation for me turned out to be a lot better," said McElroy.

McElroy's was able to open by Wednesday. Sharkheads reopened right after the storm. While hurricane Nate was no Katrina, building above typical storm surge levels can be the difference between inconvenience and destruction.

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