West Ship Island Closed For Storm Repairs - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/30/02

West Ship Island Closed For Storm Repairs

Rangers from Gulf Islands National Seashore are assessing the storm damage Tropical Storm Isidore left behind on West Ship Island.

Wind and water from the storm ripped apart piers and flooded Fort Massachusetts . The battered pier on the north shore of West Ship Island is the most obvious and costly storm damage. Storm waters washed away many planks on the pier and dumped a tree across the remaining structure.

"The uplifting from the wave action is what primarily caused it. It looks like we're going to have to replace the entire pier from one end to the other," said district ranger, Chris Ryan.

Isidore's winds did far less damage on the island. The lighthouse replica withstood the storm with no damage. The ranger station and other out buildings along the boardwalk also made it through damage free.

"We expected water to come into the fort. We always prep for the worst and hope for the best," said Maureen Finnerty as she sloshed her way through the water inside Fort Massachusetts.

Isidore dumped two feet of water inside the historic fort. It's draining off quickly. About six inches of water remains.

"This is naturally a pretty low area. And even when we get just an afternoon rain storm we usually have quite a bit of water inside the fort. And we've been really, really happy with the way the water has drained out of the fort so fast," explained Finnerty.

The cross island boardwalk fared much better than the pier. You'll recall that Hurricane Georges ripped the boardwalk to pieces. This time, there's some slight damage on the south end, but overall the boardwalk made it through the storm just fine.

West Ship Island will remain off limits to the public for several months.

"We go through the damage assessment and then come up with figures. We have an engineer out here from the southeast regional office in Atlanta. And we'll assess the damage and come up with a plan for repair," said Ryan.

Ferry service to the island has been discontinued to allow for replacement of the pier and other island repairs.

Horn Island was also damaged by Tropical Storm Isidore. The storm washed away part of the public pier and broke a fuel line that runs from the shore to the ranger station.

By Steve Phillips

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