Dredging Finally Starts At Gulfport Harbor

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport's mayor calls dredging work at his city's small craft harbor part of the "healing process." On Monday morning, equipment finally arrived to dig out hurricane debris, deepen the harbor, and prepare it for a hurricane induced makeover.

Dredging equipment will spend almost five months digging unwanted sand off the floor of the harbor. Once that's done, the city will rebuild the piers that Hurricane Katrina destroyed.

When Brent Warr arrived at the harbor, the mayor smiled and said, "Look at there. Some dredging."

The dredging started with one scoop of silt. Before long, a second shovelful of muck came off the floor of Gulfport Small Craft Harbor. And then a third. And then a fourth.

"I think it's almost a healing process," the mayor said. "It certainly makes me feel great to finally see it happening."

By December, 70,000 cubic yards of dredged materials will be dug out of the harbor. The basin will be nine feet deep -- deep enough to bring pleasure boats back to the tip of downtown Gulfport.

Justin Roland watched the initial dredging work from his small craft harbor bait shop.

"A project of this size we understand won't happen overnight," the bait shop operator said. "We're just glad to see it's actually underway."

Thirty five months ago, the last boats were leaving their docks at Gulfport's small craft harbor, so they could ride out Katrina in safer locations. It's a good thing they left. The storm obliterated those docks.

Mayor Warr admits there have been quite a few recovery delays at the harbor since the hurricane. So he hopes people see the dredging work as a sign of progress.

"It's the beginning of the true recovery from the storm. I don't think any damage is more visible or more sickening than the damage we had here at the small craft harbor," said the mayor.

Justin Roland is glad to see that damage finally go away.

"We're excited. We're glad to see progress is underway," he said.

If the dredging work remains on schedule, and engineers finish their design work on time, Mayor Warr said the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor restoration project should be completed in 14 months. Which means pleasure boats should be docking here again in the fall of 2009.