Coastal cities still working on Hurricane Zeta repairs

Biloxi's Porter and Forest Avenue piers are also closed. Repairs are set to start soon on both.
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 6:43 PM CDT
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LONG BEACH, Miss. (WLOX) - Some coastal cities are still making repairs from the damage left behind by Hurricane Zeta in 2020. Long Beach’s harbor is a strong reminder of the destruction caused by the late-season storm.

“It’s discouraging. Pass Christian, Biloxi, Gulfport, Ocean Springs; they all have their harbors built back, so I don’t know what the issue is with the federal funds, but it sure would be nice to have the harbor back in operation,” said Long Beach native Dennis Stringer.

A pier in the harbor is named after his father, Charles Stringer, who served on the port commission.

“That’s especially discouraging that he’s got a pier dedicated to him and it’s not in play. At least make the fishing available. It would be nice,” he said.”

The federal funds Stringer mentioned are a thorn in the side of city leaders. Alderman-at-large Donald Frazer told WLOX News they are frustrated because major repairs cannot happen until FEMA provides funding.

Long Beach already racked up nearly $6 million in state funds that are being used to repair the eastern sea wall, but leaders are worried that if major harbor repairs begin without FEMA signing off, then federal funds might be withheld altogether.

Biloxi is also working to make storm repairs since Zeta took out the lighthouse pier.

“The city is looking at hopefully putting out bids at the end of the summer,” said the city’s public affairs manager Cecilia Dobbs Walton. “Once the bids are out and the contractor is agreed upon, the work will begin.”

FEMA requires structures to be rebuilt to their original design, but Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said he wants to build back stronger and better. That’s why Biloxi is moving forward with the pier construction without relying on FEMA funds.

“The plans include concrete pilings and a rock jetty to help lessen the impact of the water from the storms on the pier so it can last a lot longer,” Walton said.

In Gulfport, the Moses municipal fishing pier remains off-limits while repairs are underway. FEMA funds are secured and upgrades are planned. The new pier will feature a composite flow-through deck, stainless steel hardware and concrete pilings. Gulfport city leaders expect the work will finish by August.

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