In the early hours following Hurricane Georges, Richard Pipkin says his fish camp and marina looked like the aftermath of an atomic bomb. "The water level was about this high with six foot waves on top of that and it had pretty well just destroyed everything," says Pipkin. Long time employee Leon Mendenhall remembers the high water too. "I come in here about 7:00 that morning and right along in here I had to wade in water underneath about right here to get to a boat out here on the dock, and water was clean up to the parking lot up there."
The Small Business Administration declared the marina totally destroyed. Pipkin had only had it for two years and he says all he could think about was his life investment literally washed away. " I cried and we sat down and tried to decide what we were gonna do. It was actually a full year before we knew that we'd be able to rebuild because it took us that long to get the money from the SBA," Pipkin says.
Now, nearly three years later, Pipkin says the storm was actually a blessing in disguise. It knocked him down, but he came back bigger and better, adding a two story deck and more boat slips. We're halfway through the hurricane season and Pipkin hasn't had anything to worry about. Still he keeps an eye on the weather. "We watch 'em from the time they come off the coast of Africa to, 'til they go somewhere else or here, one. We watch 'em all everyday. It's not a matter of it, it's a matter of when. We will get hit again. And just like before, Pipkin says he'll pick up the pieces and put the marina and fish camp back together.