HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - Students are one week away from going back to class at William Carey University. The campus is on track to restoring some sense of normalcy.
It's been less than a month since a twister devastated William Carey University's Hattiesburg campus. Every building was damaged in some way. Freshman Caleigh Gillespie remembers the uneasy seconds while the storm ripped through.
"You just heard doors go boom, boom, boom, boom. Then you heard the glass shatter, and we were just like, OK, we have to get downstairs," Gillespie said.
Now, each day of work inches the university closer and closer to inviting students back to class. Only two of the nine dorm buildings had to be demolished. The rest are being repaired. Students are expected to move back in over the weekend. A handful of other buildings will reopen in some capacity to let students back into class in a week.
With 500 plus workers buzzing about the wreckage, demolishing buildings, and making repairs, Dr. Tommy King, president of William Carey is starting to see the light at the end of a dark tunnel.
"By making a few adjustments, we expect to be able to accommodate all the students who wish to come back," said King.
According to King, the university is only down 46 students from the enrollment number at this time last year. He said that's a testament to the school's strength and willingness to build back.
"It makes me feel that our students are loyal. They are sticking with us, and that's the key ingredient for future well-being," said King.
King said it's a future made possible by the incredible support of the community. USM offered space for housing and classes. Several other schools and churches offered help in the form of supplies and finances.
King said above all else, something or someone has had the biggest hand in recovery.
"We give credit to God. We have an outstanding leadership team on campus that's done a remarkable job," King said.
Even though it may be hard to see at the moment, King believes the university has bright days ahead. He said the university has a reputation for recovering after storms. He said classes on the coast campus were back in session within 10 days after Hurricane Katrina.