Katrina school repairs coming to an end

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Trent Lott Middle School has turned into a big construction zone.

"A lot of dust. There's smoke. Yesterday there were sparks from putting in the new vault," said principal Dr. Shannon Vincent.

Crews are spending the summer restoring what Hurricane Katrina ruined.

"We're replacing doors that were saturated, or lockers which were rusting, canopies which were torn away," said Pascagoula School Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich.

The storm caused about $27 million worth of damage in the Pascagoula School District.  Thirteen facilities have been undergoing repairs for the past few years, including schools, maintenance and transportation buildings, and the stadium.

"The city of Pascagoula was 95 percent under water, so everything got wet here," said Rodolfich.

"That's the old cabinetry that they took off the wall," said Vincent, as she pointed to some old furniture on the ground.

She sees the messy hallways and cluttered classrooms as signs of progress.  As a bonus, the district is using its own money to give the restrooms a cleaner, updated look.

"I think the kids are going to absolutely love the look of the school," said Vincent.  "New modern bathrooms, they're going to have new lockers, they're going to have new cabinetry."

The storm repairs should be finished by the end of this upcoming school year.

"I think it's going to be a sense of closure for the teachers because Katrina damage is done," said Vincent.  "They don't have to look at rusted cabinets, wood that's falling apart.  It's also going to be closure for our kids, which is about time."

The final phase involves replacing the electrical panels and cooling towers, as well as elevating the air conditioning systems.  The superintendent says the repairs take time, because the district has to follow strict FEMA guidelines in order to receive funding.

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