The Biloxi Small Craft Harbor was once home to more than 140 boats. Now, the shattered piers offer birds a place to rest. And the only boat in business is the Sailfish.
"My slip was right over there, and I hired me a crane truck and a diver to clean it all out so I could go back to work," Corrie Eleuterius said.
Eleuterius won't be lonely for long. Crews are setting up barges and cranes, so they can tear down what's left of the pummeled pilings and piers.
"They're going to take everything out of it," said Port Manager Frankie Duggan. "They'll gut it all the way to the walls. I've waited two years for this. I just can't believe it's happening. I'm really excited about it."
The new harbor design calls for stronger concrete pier decking and pilings, to replace the wooden ones. The two main piers will have concrete-encased utility lines and topped with wooden decking. That will protect the utilities from wave action. The entire harbor will be dredged 10 feet deeper. That's how deep the harbor was when it was built 35 years ago.
"We're going to add a few bigger slips for the larger boats. That's what our demand has been in the last five years," Duggan said.
It will take about 30 days for crews to demolish and clean out the harbor. It will take another five months to rebuild it. Boat owners say they can't wait to see the harbor come back to life.
"The more boats we have down here, the more people we have down here, the more business we got," Eleuterius said.
"The people with the Small Craft Harbor, they consider this their home and they all say 'we want to go back home'," Duggan said.
The harbor project will cost $6.5 million. FEMA is paying for it. Plans are still in the works to rebuild the fuel dock and bait shop, and repair the Port Commission office building.