Biloxi waterfront bears brunt of Nate

“We dodged the bullet,” Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said today, the morning after Hurricane Nate, billed as a possible Category 2 storm armed with an 11-foot storm surge, blew through town.

However, the city’s harbors and marinas, and the electronics that control several sewage-pumping stations along the front beach sustained what Chief Administrative Officer Mike Leonard said could be millions of dollars in damage. 

Boat owners, who had moved their craft up the Bay of Biloxi, are being asked not to return until the city had been able to validate the structural integrity of the marinas and harbors. The city also planned to ask the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources to assist by using side-sonar equipment to sweep priority areas of the harbors and marinas, especially slips where the charter boat fleet would be located.

Meanwhile, Mississippi Department of Transportation crews worked to clear debris-strewn U.S. 90 this morning. The countywide curfew, originally to run from 7 p.m. Saturday to 9 a.m. this morning, was lifted early. Casinos were given the green light to open, and property owners went about raking up leaves and limbs from the yards.

For the city, damage assessments began hours after daylight.

“People are doing a good job in moving leaves and limbs to the curb, ” Leonard said. “Our Public Works crews will be working in Wards 7 and 6, and then we’ll have another crew working in Wards 3, 4 and 5. We know that we cannot expect to have the new trash contractor, Pelican Waste, pick up all of this debris. We have to begin knocking it down now.”

Gilich also said the option of employing part of the city’s debris-removal contract would be a possibility, depending on state or federal reimbursement.  Said the mayor: “Those options, I hope, are going to become clear in the next few days.”

The mayor and CAO expected to receive briefings from department directors during a staff meeting Monday morning.

The waterfront issues aside, Gilich said the storm was mild. “At landfall, it was not nearly the storm that it was when it was out in the Gulf,” the mayor said, “and I think that was mainly because of the speed of the event itself. It moved in and moved out.

Added the mayor: “Let’s remember how the community turned on a dime in preparing for this storm event. We had hundreds of RVs on our front beach, thousands of visitors in town for a huge event, and hundreds of boats in the harbors. We buttoned things up, and we avoided a host of life-safety and property issues. I’m thankful for the cooperation and understanding from the community.”

Storm video: See video clips from Nate’s storm surge on the timeline of the city’s Facebook page. To go there, click here