FEMA Allows Demolition Of Long Beach School - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

FEMA Allows Demolition Of Long Beach School

"This is the upper grade building", said Principal Eddie Holmes as he gave two Alabama teachers their first tour of his devastated school.

"These records were just infested with mold. Just infested", Holmes said.

Harper McCaughan Elementary still looks as though Katrina blasted it yesterday.

"This stuff is hard to breathe isn't it"? Holmes asked the teachers.

"I went to school here from 1960", said Holmes. "This was my first teaching assignment, and I came back in administration. So I have a lot of ties here. So it's difficult to walk through here and see the state it's in".

And what Katrina didn't destroy, vandals did.

"All that glass has been broken", said Holmes as he pointed to shattered windows.

The superintendent says the district got permission from FEMA back in December to tear down the building. But when a new team came on board, the survey process started over again. Then, there were questions about the historical significance of four classrooms that were built in the 1950's. Last week, FEMA finally agreed that the school cannot be saved.

Superintendent Carrolyn Hamilton said "We're just finally glad to get to this process, to finally be given permission to take down the school so we can begin making plans, whether it be on this site or another site. It took nine months and a great deal of time to get here".

As district leaders debate the future of the new Harper McCaughan, Principal Eddie Holmes tries to salvage some of the memories.

Holmes said "If we could take the flag pole with us, I think it's one of those things that we might be able to do, because it weathered the storm. It was put here when the school was built and it made it through and I would like to take it with us, where ever we go".

Hamilton says "if" Harper McCaughan ends up moving, it could relocate to some property the district owns between Commission and Pineville Road. Hamilton says the old Harper McCaughan campus would still be used for educational purposes.

By: Trang Pham-Bui

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