Gulfport still working with FEMA, MEMA for pier repairs

It could be another 8 months to a year before storm-damaged piers are rebuilt.
Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 6:25 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - It could be another eight months to a year before Gulfport’s storm-damaged piers are rebuilt.

“They sure need to get these piers all fixed up,” one fisherman told WLOX Monday. “The whole beach down here where they got them is all broken and closed off.”

Two years following Hurricane Zeta, all piers are still pending repairs.

You can see fishermen are now casting their lines around the ruins.

FEMA spokesperson Melanie Barker released the following statements to WLOX:

“FEMA has provided more than $101.1 million in Public Assistance funding to the state of Mississippi for Hurricane Zeta recovery projects and $22.1 million for Ida recovery projects. FEMA and the state continue working with the City of Gulfport and Harrison County on reimbursements for all eligible projects.

“FEMA has engaged with the state of Mississippi and the applicants to identify and substantiate disaster-related damage to the Harrison pier facilities caused by Hurricane Zeta. A reinspection of the facility was conducted in May 2022 to validate details of the applicant’s engineering report. Additional reports are pending FEMA receipt and will be reviewed when received. Of Gulfport’s six pier/marina projects, two marina projects and the Moses Pier have been obligated. The other three—Ken Combs, Libby and Urie—are pending environmental reviews.

“FEMA and MEMA are working closely with City of Gulfport and Harrison County to define and clarify outstanding requirements to move projects through the Public Assistance process.”

Right now, city crews are factoring in the environment.

“This is the very first phase,” said Public Works Director Wayne Miller. “So, there’s multiple phases to this project, but once we get the environmental part done, then it will speed up drastically.”

Miller expects a green light after this step is complete.

“It could be turtles, there’s a few species of fish, that type of stuff,” he said. “They send Wildlife and Fishery out, and they do some investigation because you don’t want to interfere with any type of species or any type of habitat of anything living in the waters.”

According to city officials, the process of repairing the piers is taking longer because they are requesting to build back stronger, replacing the wood structures with concrete piling and flow-through decking.

“It would be nice to see them re-open,” Gulfport resident Christopher Ashe said. “It gives you such access to the water and the scenery. It’s nice. You know, it gives you a place to be in the shade as well, to escape the sun.”

Miller said he is hopeful most piers will be back open within the year.

According to their plan, FEMA will cover 90% of the cost, MEMA will cover 5% and city funds will cover the remainder.

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