Gulfport Harbor busy with preparations as Hurricane Zeta approaches

Gulfport Harbor busy with preparations as Hurricane Zeta approaches
A.J. Moody pulls an ice chest out of his bait shop at the Gulfport Harbor on Tuesday as he evacuates the area ahead of Hurricane Zeta. (Source: John Fitzhugh)

GULFPORT Miss. (WLOX) - After several false alarms, South Mississippi has a hurricane bearing down on it.

With a landfall expected on Wednesday night, residents are scrambling once again to get prepared.

As the double hurricane flags whipped in the wind at the Gulfport Harbor, A.J. Moody was busy scooping shrimp out of the containers at his live bait business.

“This is the fourth time this year, fourth time in what, two months?” said the owner of Gulfport Marina Live Bait. "It’s a way of life in Mississippi. You gonna live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, you gotta be prepared. "

Moody said he loses $4,000 to $5,000 every time a storm forces him to evacuate his post at the foot of Moses Pier in the Gulfport Harbor. After Hurricane Katrina, the city began using portable buildings for the bait shop and fuel dock to make evacuation easier and lessen the damage.

“This is the fourth time they moved it out, and the fuel dock trailer. They just left here 30 minutes ago, and as soon as it’s over with, they’ll move it back in here and we’ll go back to our way of life,” he said.

Moody was left to salvage what he could of his stock. The ice that had been for sale was left in the parking lot for anybody to pick up.

“They got to move my ice machine too, so we’ve got to put the ice out there and give it to the public,” he said.

Meanwhile, on the north side of the harbor, city workers were busy taking down the Harbor Lights Christmas exhibit.

The city had begun setting up the lights in early October, but on Tuesday they were literally rolling up the carpets that had been laid out in Barksdale Pavilion.

The large light displays in Jones Park will stay in place, but workers were busy picking up loose items and taking down Santa’s village

The storm surge from Hurricane Zeta will likely flood Jones Park and Barksdale Pavilion, so damage control was the rule of the day.

“(We’re) making sure that we protect any of our power components that we have out here by taking those up so the water doesn’t get to those,” said Catherine Hasty, City of Gulfport Special Events Coordinator.

Breaking down for Hurricane Zeta and setting up again will make for much more work for city employees, but it should not delay the scheduled opening date of Nov. 27.

Moody said they had to stop work for an earlier storm and were able to get back on schedule

“We will just kind of see where we are after the storm and move forward from there,” she said.

Most boaters had already cleared out of the harbor by midday Tuesday, but a handful were still shoving off to obey the mandatory evacuation that is ordered whenever the storm surge is expected to be high.

After he finished taking care of the bait shot, Moody said he will drive to Moss Point and take his shrimp boat to safe harbor.

It’s a hassle for Moody, but he takes it in stride.

“We’re just going to pick up the pieces after it’s over with and with God’s mercy, we’ll be back in operation when it’s over with,” he said.

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