The Shoofly Magazine's
Big Buzz blog
- story by Ellis Anderson
- photos by Ellis Anderson unless otherwise attributed. Many thanks to Kasey Marie, Morales Parker, and Suzanne Gavin
Although Tropical Storm Cristobal’s tidal surge in Hancock County far exceeded predictions on Sunday, the next day, officials expressed relief that damage appeared to be minimal.
The storm made Louisiana landfall late Sunday afternoon. Its tidal surge along the Mississippi coast was predicted to reach three to five feet. But as Cristobal’s eye drove toward Louisiana, the worst part of the storm – the northeast quadrant – moved across Hancock County, pushing in several feet more water than was expected.
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“In my opinion, for a tropical storm, a devastating amount of water came in,” he said. “During the storm I couldn’t even get into the Cedar Point area, the water was too high. And we had a good bit of flooding in Wards 5 and 6.
"Many people were stranded in their houses, waiting for the water to recede. We lost some cars to flooding, too. Downtown at the harbor, it looked like the south wall was getting a pounding, but that the breakwater was doing its job.”
“A few boats rubbed against pilings and a couple of sails ripped, but the harbor itself came through without a scratch. The wave screen definitely kept the action down and helped mitigate the damage.”
“I discovered that I’m quite attached to electricity,” Fitzpatrick said the next day, laughing. “There’s nothing like having no power as it’s getting dark, and the wind is high and branches are falling.”
Fitzpatrick is known for her daily sunrise expeditions to photograph landscapes that she shares with a large social media following. On Monday morning, she drove through her neighborhood for an informal assessment. Although parts of the beach road were still under water, she saw few visible signs of damage – here and there a few pieces of piers had been ripped away. Fitzpatrick noted debris lines marking the surge’s high point seemed much higher than usual for a tropical storm.
Mayor Mike Smith of Waveland pointed out that the beach road at Coleman Avenue has an elevation of 5.5 feet and that on Coleman Avenue, where the city hall, Studio Waveland and the Ground Zero Museum are located, the water covered the road for the first block, to Arlington Street, leaving the buildings untouched.
The Veterans Memorial itself is circled with sheet piling, which the mayor credits for protecting the small park. The process involves driving sheets of steel into the earth like pier pilings.
The mayor said Waveland is the only city on the Mississippi coast without a marina and that a small one has been on the drawing board for years, while the “boardwalk” is just in a preliminary conceptual phase. The mayor is looking for public input on both. He has already gotten hundreds of shares, comments and emails, “nothing but positive feedback.’’
“There’s a lot of possibilities here,” said Mayor Smith.