Sailboat from the harbor lays across the middle of a fast food parking lot next to Highway 90 in Long Beach, Mississippi from the storm surge of Hurricane Zeta on November 2, 2020. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

by Hunter Dawkins

Unlike other municipalities across the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Long Beach sustained a major amount of harbor damage from Hurricane Zeta on Wednesday, October 28 along with  a few vessels that washed across Highway 90 from the storm surge.  The destruction of the harbor in the “Friendly City” and the large amount of debris has led to bids being placed for cleanup and engineer restoration.

“City of Long Beach is working on getting RFQs for Engineering at the Long Beach Harbor to assess the damage from Hurricane Zeta,” said Long Beach Mayor George Bass.  “We will not know until then when it will be able to have boats docking and use the harbor.”

At the recent Long Beach Board of Aldermen meeting last Tuesday, November 3, Ward 4 Alderman Timothy McCaffrey questioned the Emergency 72-hour contract arranged to clear the streets of debris; acknowledging of his contact with contractors about their frustration for not being included in the ability to submit a bid.  The consensus of the board chose to issue an annual contingent contract to be triggered for the next storm.

Boat from harbor drifted to the east after the Hurricane Zeta storm surge in Long Beach on November 2, 2020. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

The city immediately approved ratification of contract with Necaise Bros. Construction for debris removal and disposal services that had been adopted in the November 1 special-called meeting.  For all work, the contract cost was $1,434,500.00 and nineteen of the items were detailed.  Additionally, the city ratified a contract with Thompson Consulting Services for debris monitoring services also approved in the same meeting.  Thompson aims will assist the city in navigating the funding and compliance channels of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) public assistance program.

“Our harbor is obviously not going to enjoy the revenue stream because we are not going to be allowed to have boats in there,” said Long Beach City Attorney Steve Simpson discussing the concern to the aldermen.  “It does have a need for security and needs city employees although the city could use them in other areas.”

After the discussion on storage of the Long Beach harbor pedestals removed by the Hurricane Zeta storm surge, Harbormaster Bill Angley explained to the board that the city’s current pay was $2500 a month for storage, but his receipt of a quote of $3500 for an enclosed trailer which would accommodate until these could be reinstalled on the piers.  With this recommendation, the board unanimously approved.

Harbor Debris from Hurricane Zeta laying across the beach parallel to St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Long Beach on November 2, 2020. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

Hurricane Zeta was the record-tying sixth hurricane to make landfall in the United States, the twenty-seventh named storms and eleventh hurricane of the exceptionally active 2020 Atlantic storm season.  Although no assessment has been made yet, officials have stated a potential $8 million cost to restore the Long Beach Harbor.

Even with President Donald J. Trump’s emergency declaration for Mississippi on October 28, 2020, FEMA is authorized for only 75 percent Federal funding while MEMA should be 12.5 percent.