PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Another significant symbol of post-Katrina recovery is rising from the ground in Pass Christian.
Leaders at Trinity Episcopal Church have big plans for restoring their historic sanctuary. The biggest change involves elevation. The sanctuary that has lifted countless souls and spirits over many decades, is being lifted itself.
Wednesday morning work crews began the painstaking task of lifting the church 10 feet higher. Raising the building will comply with FEMA elevation guidelines and allow Trinity Episcopal to proceed with restoration plans.
"This is going to be our only building for awhile, so we'll use it for everything. We'll have offices in there. We'll use it for worship. We'll use it for education. We'll use it for fellowship," said Pastor Chris Colby.
Adjusting a series of hydraulic jacks beneath giant steel beams allows workers to raise the building a few inches at a time.
"What they do is raise it up about six inches, then readjust their cribbing. Then raise the cribbing up six inches, then jack it up six more inches and readjust the cribbing one more time," said contractor Matt McBride.
Once complete, the elevated and restored Trinity sanctuary will still evoke feelings of the structure that stood here before the storm.
"We're going to stick with the gothic theme of the church and try and maintain pretty much what was there before," said Michael Glidden, who will oversee the wood and finishing work on the project.
Progress is barely perceptible as the sanctuary slowly inches upward.
In a town that greatly appreciates every bit of post-Katrina progress, Trinity Episcopal is another example.
"An example that we're coming back. We're going to build back. But also an example that in coming back, we're going to be more sustainable than we were before," said Leah McBride, the project architect.
The restoration of Trinity Episcopal should be finished by Christmas.
"It's part of the identity of Pass Christian and the people who worship here," said Rev. Colby.
Along with being more storm worthy, the restored Trinity Episcopal will also be energy efficient. That's because the project is LEED certified, a process that requires a building to meet stringent energy requirements