Katrina damage still haunts schools in South Mississippi

Mct and Mct

By Melissa M. Scallan MCT

GULFPORT,Miss.- Universities and community colleges in South Mississippi took a huge hit from Hurricane Katrina, suffering damages in excess of $300 million.

A year after the storm, damage to some facilities has been repaired, while some institutions have been forced to move classes elsewhere.

Most school officials say they are working to provide education to students in this area, and enrollments are near pre-Katrina levels in some locations.


Hurricane Katrina caused more than $200 million damage to the Southern Miss campuses in Hattiesburg and along the Coast, but classes resumed at all facilities by Oct. 10.

Since every building on the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach sustained damage, classes were moved to the Gulf Coast Student Services Center behind Memorial Hospital in Gulfport.

Repairs have been made to the business complex, Holloway Complex, physical plant building and shipping and receiving building. The Advanced Education Center and the library have been gutted and are ready to be repaired.

University officials said they hope classes can resume in Long Beach by the fall of 2007.

The university’s Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs received more than $13 million in damage from tidal surge and wind, but many of the buildings have been restored, and classes and research are being held in temporary modular buildings.

Plans are under way to rebuild most of the buildings lost in the storm; however, the J.L. Scott Marine Education Center has been relocated to the GCRL grounds and likely will not be rebuilt at Point Cadet because of cost.

Other Southern Miss facilities, including those at Stennis Space Center and in Jackson County, received minimal damage and reopened within six weeks after the storm. The university’s administrative offices at Keesler Air Force Base were heavily damaged, but services resumed last spring.

On the Hattiesburg campus, roofs on 40 buildings were repaired or replaced, and fencing also was repaired after Hurricane Katrina. Classes began on the campus on Sept. 12.


The historic campus in Gulfport was located on U.S. 90 and was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

After the storm, classes were held at different churches throughout the city, but school officials have placed 16 modular buildings on the beachfront property for classes and offices.

“Everything is back on our campus,” said Jerry Bracey, dean of the Gulfport campus.

“We have offices here, classrooms and computer labs.”