Harbor Home Owner Wants Storm Damage Prevention

The owners of a large home overlooking Ocean Springs Harbor had a front row view of Katrina. They rode out the hurricane, which washed 14 boats onto their property.

"They were hitting all our columns. They knocked out the windows over here, in the breakfast area, where the plywood is," said Dr. William Pontius, pointing to the damage runaway boats did to his home.

Dr. Pontius and wife Mollie witnessed the fury.

"We had been through a lot of hurricanes, so it wasn't that scary. And taking photographs kept us from being scared," he said.

His wife recalled riding out the storm.

"Oh it was just, the photographs are chilling!" she exclaimed.

"Now here are the boats beginning to come up to the house," said Dr. Pontius, pointing to a computer screen showing the photos he snapped.

He kept his camera busy.

"Here we're going to have boats cruising by, goind down to the rest of our house," he said, pointing to another image.

Of the 14 boats that washed onto their property, two remain.

Dr. Pontius wants the harbor commission to consider suggestions he presented before Katrina. They include things like pre-storm evacuation or rules governing boat tie downs.

"The response was, not much. I asked them to do four points or consider them. And they did not. They maybe considered them but did not act on them," he said.

Harbormaster Johnny Hughes says evacuating the harbor was considered.

"As a matter of history this harbor has always been a safe harbor for storms. We've been very fortunate. Even back during Camille the boats all stayed here. And of course this storm was a little more than I think anybody anticipated," said the harbormaster.

A part of the Ocean Springs Harbor was evacuated before Katrina. Commercial vessels near the entrance to the harbor were all removed. But the rest of the boat owners were allowed to tie up. Not only those that lease slips, but also boaters from elsewhere seeking safe harbor.

Harbormaster Hughes says many prevention and harbor issues are up for review post-Katrina.

That's something storm weary home owners may be happy to hear.

By the way, Dr. Pontius tied up his boat in the Ocean Springs Harbor before Katrina. It was among the 14 vessels which wound up in his yard.