Hurricane Katrina

Recent posts

JCJC’s Black History Celebration features college student & Katrina survivor

ELLISVILLE – Jones County Junior College’s Multi-Cultural Club is hosting its annual Black History Celebration on Tuesday,

Submitted Picture: College student and Katrina ‘survivor’ Jeremy Graham will be JCJC’s guest speaker for the annual Black History Celebration.

February 8 at 10:15 a.m. in the JCJC Fine Arts Auditorium.  The public is invited to this free event which will include special musical guests, JC Voices.

The guest speaker will be college student Jeremy Graham, originally from New Orleans, LA.  He is a graduate of Hinds Community College and is currently enrolled at Mississippi College.  Graham will share his life story about growing up in New Orleans and eventually moving to Jackson, MS after hurricane Katrina to getting caught up in illegal activities and deciding to pursue his education.

“I truly believe his life story is a perfect example of ‘When There is Hope’, which is the theme for this year’s program,” said Dr. Samuel Jones, JCJC Dean of Students.  “It is my hope that the audience will embrace Jeremy’s story because I believe our entire student body struggles with similar life issues at some point in their lives.  It is also my hope that we can show support for this program because even though it’s celebrating Black History, the purpose is to give homage to the fact that anything is possible when there is HOPE.”

Best Selling Author Koch Coming to Barnes and Noble at USM for Katrina Book Signing

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – A University of Southern Mississippi alumna will be on the Hattiesburg campus to sign copies of her popular book on Hurricane Katrina Thursday, Nov. 18 from 5-7 p.m. and Friday Nov. 19 from 4-6 p.m. at Barnes and Noble bookstore.

Kathleen Koch, a native of Bay St. Louis and member of the Southern Miss School of Mass Communication and Journalism Hall of Fame, is the author of “Rising from Katrina: How My Mississippi Hometown Lost It All and Found What Mattered.” Released earlier this year, it made and Southern Independent Bestsellers List in their non-fiction categories.

As a reporter for the Cable News Network (CNN), Koch was on the ground covering Katrina’s impact on the Gulf Coast, including her hometown. Her coverage was the subject of her acclaimed CNN documentary “Saving My Town: The Fight for Bay St. Louis” followed by the sequel “The Town that Fought Back.”

“I’m really excited about coming back to campus for this event, and to share my experiences with students about what happened during Hurricane Katrina,” said Koch, who will also speak to Southern Miss journalism students on Thursday about her work

To learn more about Koch’s book, online visit; for more information about the book signing, call Barnes and Noble at Southern Miss at 601.266.4381.

Honoré to Speak at Centennial Lecture Series

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré, renowned for his forceful, productive leadership during the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort, will be the guest speaker for the Issues and Answers Lecture Series presented by The Sun Herald, The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast College of Arts and Letters and the Centennial Celebration Committee on Tuesday, Sept 7. The lecture is set for 7 p.m. at the Fleming Education Center Auditorium on the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore coordinated recovery efforts in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina.

The theme for Honoré’s presentation is “The Art of Crisis Leadership: Lessons Learned Building a Culture of Preparedness.” The lecture is free and open to the general public. A live Webcast of the lecture will be presented at 7 p.m. at Bennett Auditorium on the Hattiesburg campus.

“I can think of no one more capable of addressing crisis preparedness better than Lt. Gen. Honoré,” said Dr. Vafa Kamali, director and instructor in the Office of the Vice President for Research at Southern Miss. “He is a proven motivator and has already illustrated that he knows what needs to be done when faced with a crisis situation. We are delighted to have him share some insight as part of our Centennial Lecture Series.”

Five years ago Hurricane Katrina devastated much of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Several buildings on the Southern Miss Gulf Park campus were destroyed by the high winds and massive storm surge. But today a concerted rebuilding effort continues at Gulf Park which has emerged from the disaster more resilient than ever.

A native of Lakeland, La., Honoré, is a coveted speaker on the lecture circuit and a regular commentator for CNN. Last month he was one of the featured speakers at the National Sports Safety and Security Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans. He retired in February of 2008 following 37 years of active service with the United States Army.

“I think he relates to people so well because he truly cares about helping others,” said Kamali. “He has always understood that one of the primary missions of the military is to make life better for people in need.”

For more information contact Jennifer Payne at 601.266.4095 or


Five Years Later, Southern Miss Points to Progress in Katrina Recovery

USM Rebuilds

David Tisdale, USM Public Relations

Hurricane Katrina, the Category 3 storm considered the worst natural disaster in modern U.S. history, caused more than $200 million in damages to The University of Southern Mississippi when it roared ashore Aug. 29, 2005.

It devastated the Southern Miss Gulf Park campus and other university research and teaching sites along the Mississippi coastline with 130-plus mile per hour winds and a storm surge estimated as high as 30 feet in areas, washing through the first floor of buildings and completely destroying others.

Five years later, the university continues making strong strides toward recovery, a reflection of the legacy of commitment by its employees, students, alumni and other stakeholders to come back stronger than ever.

“With the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaching, Southern Miss Gulf Coast continues to look toward the future and the many opportunities that lie ahead for this university,” said Dr. Frances Lucas, vice president and campus executive officer for Southern Miss Gulf Coast.

Katrina remained a deadly force as she moved 75 miles north through the university’s Hattiesburg campus with winds of more than 100 mph, necessitating more than $15 million in repairs and extensive debris removal. However, the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach and other teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast took the brunt of the hurricane.

In addition to structural damage, the university also incurred losses of research and equipment as well as tuition dollars, after approximately 1,000 students withdrew because of the hurricane’s impact on them and their families. But through the efforts of dedicated faculty, staff and administrators, the fall 2005 semester moved forward on the Gulf Coast and in Hattiesburg after modifications were made to the academic schedule.

Southern Miss Gulf Coast was the only institution of higher learning in the hurricane-affected area that moved an entire campus to another site. The Gulf Park facilities were shifted from Long Beach to its temporary location at the Gulf Coast Student Service Center in the Pinion Healthmark facilities in Gulfport.

The Gulf Park campus sustained damage to every building. Prior to the storm, Gulf Park was comprised of 30 structures totaling just less than 290,000 square feet of space; following the storm, the campus had lost 13 buildings and 24,000 square feet to the storm, either destroyed and washed away or too severely damaged to salvage. Of the remaining 266,000 square feet, none was left untouched by the storm.

Now, five years later, nine of the remaining 17 buildings have been restored including the new library and classroom building, recently dedicated as the Horace W. Fleming Education Center; Barber Building; Holloway Complex; Business Complex; and the Physical Plant. In total, approximately 142,000 square feet have been restored.

A new Technology Learning Center has been constructed on the northern portion of the campus. A new Science Building, original slated for construction in the fall of 2005, has been re-sited on the northern portion of the campus and University officials expect construction on it to begin by spring 2011.

“Based on all of the restoration projects described above, we anticipate fully returning to the Gulf Park campus by fall 2012,” said Bryan Billings, director of planning, contracts and emergency preparedness at Southern Miss Gulf Coast.

The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs sustained heavy damage as well, and the restoration work continues at that site. Contracts have recently been awarded for the final restoration of two additional buildings, the Aquatic Wet Lab and the Shrimp Maturation Building. Planning for the replacement of the Hopkins Building is well underway. Other buildings are being replaced and relocated at Cedar Point.

“While we restore and enhance the Gulf Park campus, along with our other teaching and research sites on the coast, our students will continue to receive the highest quality education,” Lucas said.

PRCC Bounces Back After Katrina

POPLARVILLE – Almost five years after Hurricane Katrina tore through the Pearl River Community College campus, construction is finally beginning on buildings to replace those lost to the storm.

Work has started on Lamar Hall, a 108-bed residence hall to replace a 60-bed dormitory damaged by Katrina.

Crews should break ground before the end of the month on an addition to historic Moody Hall where the storm demolished the auditorium.

“Those are our first significant re-builds from Katrina damage,” said Dr. William Lewis, PRCC president. “From the perspective of the college becoming totally healed, it is a huge step to see the dirt moving.”

PRCC Rebuilds

Architects' renderings of new buildings at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville include, clockwise from top left, Lamar Hall men's residence, Ethel Holden Brownstone Performing Arts Center, Marvin R. White Coliseum and an addition to Moody Hall. PRCC Public Relations

Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005, wrecked PRCC’s Marvin R. White Coliseum, ripped the roof from the Moody Hall auditorium and seriously damaged Lamar Hall. Although the residence hall was patched up and used for several semesters, building inspectors recommended closing it because its infrastructure was deteriorating.

The new two-story Lamar Hall will feature suite-style rooms, including two handicapped-accessible rooms, a three-bedroom, two-bath apartment for the residence director and common areas on both floors. It is expected to be open by the fall 2011 semester.

Rod Cooke Construction of Mobile is building the $3.96 million facility financed by insurance.

The hurricane damage to Moody Hall’s auditorium forced its demolition in December 2006. Moody Hall, built in 1926, is the oldest classroom building continuously in use at a Mississippi community college.

The three-story addition will be built on the site of the auditorium and face River Road.

“We just got the notification to proceed on Moody Hall,” Lewis said. “We expect in the next two weeks to break ground.”

The addition should be finished by the beginning of the 2011 fall semester. Mac’s Construction of Hattiesburg is building the $2.26 million building which will be paid for from insurance funds and state bond money.

“It will give us a permanent home out of the temporary facilities that have served their purpose,” said Archie Rawls, chairman of the Department of Fine Arts and Communication. “While it hasn’t been terrible, it will certainly be nice to have the department all in one place.”

PRCC’s music and theater classes and offices were moved to temporary trailer facilities after the storm. The art department has been located since 1995 in a building constructed in 1957 for the metal trades program.

The first floor of the Moody Hall addition will provide an art display area along with music classrooms and studios. Speech and theater classrooms and offices, a conference room and Rawls’ office will be on the second floor. The third floor will house art studios, classrooms and offices.

“An elevator that will access all of Moody will be a welcome addition,” Rawls said.

The loss of the Moody Hall auditorium forced PRCC’s fine arts programs to stage performances in Olivia Bender Cafeteria and Malone Chapel, neither of which was built for concerts or plays.

Lewis hopes that within the next two years, PRCC will open the Ethel Holden Brownstone Center for the Performing Arts.

“The plans are under final review by the Bureau of Buildings and Grounds and should be on the street for bids within the next 60 days,” Lewis said.

The center has been in development since 2003 when PRCC received $4.7 million from the estate of Ethel Holden Brownstone, a graduate of Pearl River County Agricultural High School.

Approximately $4 million has been held in reserve for the performing arts center. PRCC also received a $350,000 Building Fund for the Arts grant in 2007 from the Mississippi Arts Commission for the center. Additional funds will come from the Katrina insurance settlement.

The center will include a 1,000-seat auditorium, state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment and a dining area suitable for dinner theater performances. It will be built on the current band practice field. Lewis expects construction to take around 18 months.

Still to come is a new coliseum, which will also bear the name of Marvin R. White, who served as college president from 1968-1986.

“We have come to an agreement with FEMA and the plans are currently being developed,” Lewis said.

FEMA’s standard policy is to replace the footprint of a building. However, changes in building codes since the coliseum’s construction in 1972 mean the new building must be 8,000 square feet to 9,000 square feet larger than the old, Lewis said.

He hopes groundbreaking on the new building will be held early in 2011 and expects construction to take about a year and a half.

Construction costs will be paid from the college’s Katrina insurance settlement along with FEMA funds. How much FEMA pays will be determined when the bids are let.

Photo captions:

Mississippi Power Co. crews install the electrical feeds Monday for construction of Lamar Hall on the Pearl River Community College campus.

PRCC Public Relations photo

Enhanced by Zemanta