New Well Will Ease Pass Christian School's Water Woes

Portable toilets were a common sight in the days and weeks after Katrina pummeled Pass Christian. But two years later, port-o-potties are still a part of life at Delisle Upper Elementary and the Middle School.

"They're not nice looking, but they handle our children's needs as best as possible," said Delisle Elementary Principal Ramona Berry.

When both schools were destroyed in the storm, 55 trailers were installed on the Delisle Elementary campus. Right now, only three trailers have running water and serve as restrooms for the students and faculty. Twelve other trailers have sinks and toilets, but there's no water hook-up.

As a demonstration, Berry opened the door of a small room in her office and explained, "This is actually a bathroom facility that, because of the lack of water, we turned into a vault storage area."

The current water well on the campus was only designed to handle one school. But with the addition of more than 700 students and teachers, the district needed another well that's bigger and can serve as back-up for the old well.

"FEMA is a large, multi-fingered monster," said Ronnie Storey, the Director of Support Services for the Pass Christian School District. "It's been a near impossibility. This month makes the second anniversary of the initial request for a well."

Storey believes Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts helped speed-up the process. On the second anniversary of Katrina, the Pass Christian native questioned FEMA Director David Paulison about the delays.

"We had come a long way in the process, but she was probably the one who pushed the right button to tip it over," Storey said. "And starting next week, we'll start construction on a new well."

The new well will mean water service to 12 trailers, as well as the future bus barn and transportation building. But most of all, it will mean students won't have to walk through the soggy mess to go to the bathroom.

"This is very exciting," the principal said. "It brings a sense of normalcy for our children."

"I'm relieved that it's done," Storey said. "But it's going to mean a lot to the community to know the school is coming back. It's going to mean a lot to our students to know that we're really supporting them in a safe, healthy manner."

Storey said FEMA agreed to pay $309,000 for the additional well. It will take about 90 days to complete. The portable toilets will remain on campus, in case they are needed.