DMR Crew Hunts For Hurricane Debris Under Harbor Waters

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Some used heavy equipment.  Others relied on their hands. Crews spent Friday cleaning-up the battered Pass Christian Harbor.

"We're hoping to get everything out of the boat ramps, so the boaters that want to go out this weekend and stuff can get access to the ramps," said Willie Davis, Harbor Master of the Pass Christian Harbor.

You can see the piles of Hurricane Gustav damage around the harbor. But boaters are more concerned about potential hazards hiding under water.

On Friday, a DMR boat crew went on the hunt for signs of dangerous debris.  They used a sonar device called a tow fish to scan the water.

"It's a sensor," said Kerwin Cuevas, the DMR Artificial Reef Bureau Chief. "It emits acoustic signals on both sides of it, and it bounces back."

The signals go straight to a computer, and the data gives the team a picture of what lies beneath the water's surface.

"It will pick up any kind of snags, any kind of debris, anything on the bottom," said Cuevas. "It gives us a GPS coordinate, so we can come back and put a marker on it or a buoy."

The three-man crew also spent a couple of hours Friday morning scanning the Long Beach Harbor, and they gave it the all clear. However, it was a different story when they made their first pass through the Pass Christian Harbor.

"I think we just ran over something Kerwin," one crew member said.

"It's sticking up pretty high, so that's definitely a navigational hazard," said Cuevas.

As soon as the obstructions are identified and marked, recreational boaters can look forward to returning to the harbor, and commercial fishermen can get back to work.

"Hopefully, it won't be long before we get it cleaned up and ready to go," said Davis. "It won't be perfect, but we'll have it to where it's usable."

The DMR also scanned Port Bienville in Hancock County this week. Next week, the crew will work at the Small Craft Harbor in Biloxi, as well as the Point Cadet and Lee Street Harbors.