Pass Christian Recovery Slow, But Improving

J.C. Necaise has done plenty of hardware shopping since Katrina wiped out properties in Pass Christian and Delisle. When he looks around the area, he says, "I don't think it will ever be the same. I mean it will come back. But it's going to take a long time I believe."

That's a common feeling in a hurricane ravaged town that lost 80 percent of its homes and almost half of its population.

Steve Kohl owns a home on Scenic Drive that's being restored. He called the city's recovery efforts slow.

"But it's coming back," Kohl said. "It took people a long time to get their act together, but by gosh they're coming back."

The man overseeing Kohl's restoration project is Alan Ramsay. Every time the Yazoo City native goes home, he has to remind people about Pass Christian's devastation.

"They truly don't understand the enormity of what happened here and what it's going to take to put it back together again," Ramsay said.

Restoration projects have started at several Pass Christian properties. Yet, Mayor Chipper McDermott knows people think the recovery clock is dragging just a bit.

"It's slow, but we're going forward everyday," he commented.

At the temporary Pass Christian City Hall, going forward means coming up with a priority list of what should be rebuilt first.

"We've got a ton of money obligated. It just takes time to go through the hoops that you have to go through to actually get them going," the mayor said.

McDermott expects water and sewer work near Highway 90 to start early next year. Restoring the harbor is also on the fast track. A contract for that work could be awarded very soon.

Finding somebody who wants to open a grocery store in the Pass is another McDermott priority. The mayor said there may only be a few hundred livable homes in his town right now. But the people in those homes need a place to shop without leaving the city.

"We're making small steps, but they're positive steps," he said.

The motto in the Pass can be summed up by a banner hanging over the front door at the city's hardware store. It says, "Don't give up the ship."

According to Mayor McDermott, Pass Christian has issued 1,300 permits to families who want to rebuild homes. Some of those people may need one of the new water heaters donated to the city.

To see how you can qualify for a Noritz water heater, the mayor wants Pass Christian residents to call City Hall. That phone number is (228) 452-3310.