Long Beach harbor sails toward a complete recovery

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Long Beach aldermen will open bids Tuesday night to repave the harbor parking lot and rebuild the harbor's northern bulkhead. Those are the most recent improvement plans for a Long Beach marina that looks nothing like it did after Katrina.

Long Beach port and harbor commissioners say that by the end of the year, they should be about 95 percent complete with their harbor restoration project.

Barry Deshamp left Gulfport because he had no where to hang his charter boat sign.

"That's right. We don't have any harbors down there," he said while erecting the frame for his charter boat sign in Long Beach. "I mean no piers, no slip, no nothing down there."

These days, you'll find his "9 Ball" fishing vessel at the rebuilt Long Beach harbor. It's become Deshamp's post Katrina home away from home.

"I didn't want to leave Gulfport. But I've found a good home here in Long Beach," he admitted.

So has Claude Dannemann.

"I've got electricity. I've got water. What more do you want in a marina?" Dannemann wondered while working on his boat.

The Dannemanns are transforming a shrimp boat into their own mini yacht. And they're hoping the end result looks as good as the Long Beach harbor's makeover.

"I think it's a well kept secret. I think it's a good little harbor," he said.

Long Beach port and harbor commissioners made rebuilding their 200 boat slips a post Katrina priority. They wanted the harbor to become a reflection of the city's recovery.

Phil Kies is the commission's chairman. When people visit, he said, "I want them to see a clean, secure, well maintained, friendly operation."

More than two million dollars in FEMA money and insurance proceeds have already been spent on this harbor. The next projects will repave the parking lot, and solidify the northern breakwall. After that, Long Beach has plans to create a two story harbor house. But only after some broken pilings are removed.

"We're making progress, that's for sure," Kies said. "I'm thrilled at where we are. I think a year from now we'll be 95 percent complete of where we want to be."

Considering what the Long Beach harbor looked like after Hurricane Katrina, 95 percent is just fine with its tenants.

"I like it. I wouldn't be here if I didn't," Dannemann said. "Like I said, it's a good little marina. We just need to get more of them up and running around here."