GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — A popular barrier island off the Mississippi Gulf Coast is scheduled to reopen to tourists on April 14, more than eight months after Hurricane Katrina destroyed many of the National Park Service facilities on the island.

Katrina’s 125-mph winds and 25-foot storm surge pummeled Ship Island on Aug. 29.

Louis Skrmetta, operations manager for Ship Island Excursions, said people call every day inquiring about visiting the island. He said his family can’t wait to reopen and they have already started booking group tours for April and May.

‘‘People want to get out,’’ Skrmetta said. ‘‘They need an escape.’’

The pier at Gulfport Harbor and the boardwalk at Ship Island have been rebuilt and much of the debris that washed onto the island after the storm has been removed. However, more cleaning is needed before it can be opened to the public.

Jerry Eubanks, superintendent of Gulf Islands National Seashore, of which Ship Island is a part, said visitors shouldn’t expect to see the island they have come to love.

‘‘It will be pretty primitive,’’ Eubanks said. ‘‘We’ll do what we can.’’

Katrina destroyed the concession area, the water well and bathrooms on the island and flooded Fort Massachusetts. Eventually, Skrmetta hopes the facilities will be rebuilt, but that would take more than a year to finish and cost several million dollars.

The National Park Service has asked Congress for $55 million to repair 12 national parks damaged in hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. About $15 million of that is needed to repair Gulf Islands.

The request is part of a $19 billion package needed to repair storm-damaged areas in Louisiana and Mississippi.

‘‘We’re asking for help from businesses, the chamber and board of supervisors to get in touch with the congressional delegation so we can get money for temporary facilities,’’ Skrmetta said.

Until then, Skrmetta said he will use the concession stand and bathrooms on the company’s three boats to accommodate his passengers. The exact hours of operation and fees haven’t been decided. Skrmetta said the schedule will be a scaled-back version of past years.

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