Southern Miss Four Months After the Feb. 10 Tornado - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Southern Miss Four Months After the Feb. 10 Tornado

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The southern part of the University of Southern Mississippi's campus was hit the hardest by the F-4 tornado.  Four buildings were damaged including the Olgetree Alumni House. Segments of the new wrought iron fence were knocked down as well.  Four months and millions of dollars of damage later, the campus is slowly recovering.

"We're in negotiations with insurance adjusters working on a final settlement," says Chris Crenshaw, director of the Southern Miss Physical Plant.

Initial reports from campus officials show about 20 million dollars of damage to Southern Miss.

But now it's slowly starting to look like its old self, just four months later. One building hit hard, the Ogletree Alumni House.  "We are working with the Mississippi Department of Archives and history to restore this building back to its original luster." According Crenshaw, they're opening bids for the restoration project on July 9th.

Four other buildings on campus had significant damage - three of those have already been demolished. Next is the old Elam Arms dormitory.

"We had plans to demolish that prior to the storm, the fact that the tornado did so much damage it really changed our plans for how we demolish that building."

Several sections of a wrought-iron fence were also flattened by the tornado. "It delayed the fence project approximately 50 days but we're wrapping it up now."

Another project wrapping up, phase one of the campus's restoration plans, restoring the gateway to campus. "Now we're moving into the rose garden phase then we'll pretty much move from west to east as we finish up the phase." There are five phases to the plan including a renovation to lake Byron to accommodate storm water retention. Southern Miss has received over a million dollars for its beautification campaign. But the work is only just beginning.  "I think it will be several years before we actually get back to where we were from the tornado and it would have been a lot longer if it wasn't for the success of our campaign."

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