Long Beach School Shattered By Katrina - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/29/05

Long Beach School Shattered By Katrina

Long Beach Superintendent Carolyn Hamilton pointed to one section of Harper McCaughan Elementary and said "This is the upper grade classrooms and it was built in 1978-80."

She never imagined she'd see her beloved school so shattered. Hamilton looked at the debris and said "What's sad is, some of it is people's lives and it's just scattered".

Hamilton has an emotional bond with McCaughan.

Hamilton said "This is where I went to elementary school. The principal, Mr. Holmes, went to elementary school here, and it's a big part of our community".

Now, that symbol of pride is a pile of rubble. Katrina pushed muddy water into the buildings.

Principal Eddie Holmes said "You can see the water line. It was well over 6 feet of water".

It knocked down walls and soaked everything in sight.

Hamilton said "Everything was moved and jumbled. Book cases are knocked over. All the books wet and destroyed".

Hamilton said "Everything south of the tracks is gone. Many of our teachers and staff have lost everything. So this just adds insult to injury I guess, because the place they could work and where they came to learn is gone too".

When school starts on Monday, students and teachers at Harper McCaughan will transfer to Quarles Elementary. They will share classrooms and operate under a split schedule, until 23 double wide trailers arrive on campus. Those trailers will be used as temporary classrooms until Harper McCaughan is rebuilt.

The rebuilding begins with getting teachers and children back in class. On Thursday, Hamilton met with her teachers for the first time since the storm hit to reassure them that the school and district will bounce back.

Hamilton told the teachers "The most important thing we need right now is you. Everything else can slowly be replaced. This is just a building, and the people are still here. We're ready for them when they come in".

By: Trang Pham-Bui

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