GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - With Tropical Storm Gordon bearing down on the coast and a hurricane warning in place, boat owners at Mississippi Gulf Coast harbors are scrambling to either secure or evacuate their vessels.
Gulfport issued a mandatory evacuation order Monday morning, with Biloxi and Long Beach quickly follow suit. Some boat owners are complying while others are tying down their boats. Boats began pulling out of the Gulfport Marina moments after the city issued a mandatory evacuation order.
"This area floods with anything over the four-foot flood mark. That last one, the water was up over the pylons. It's not a safe place to be," said boat owner Darryl Porter.
The harbor master and the city of Gulfport take the mandate seriously.
"We will probably have some boat owners who won't or can't, most likely can't, because they're out of town. But, at the end of the day there is an ordinance for the city of Gulfport that states there could be a $1,000 per day fine for the duration of the evacuation. It could also go down as a misdemeanor on their record and it could result in an eviction from the marina," according to Harbor Master George Manemann.
Harbors and marinas are particularly vulnerable with tropical winds and storm surge barreling in. Past tropical systems have created considerable damage at the Gulfport Marina, encouraging boat owners to take every precaution.
At the Long Beach Harbor, people were tying down their boats and in some cases taking the vessels to safe harbor.
"I started thinking this morning that I was going to have to move my boat. There could be a tidal surge that would damage my boat or the pier," said boat owner Roy Burke.
Tropical Storm Gordon is being fueled by uncertain, but potentially destructive conditions. Boat owners want to protect their investments and make sure an old adage applies to an action plan.
"Better safe than sorry, always," Rester said.
Gulfport passed the evacuation ordinance after Hurricane Nate hit the coast last year. That storm did considerable damage to the marina and the city wants to protect its multi-million dollar investment.