Millions in damages reported at USM
Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 23:02
After assessing damages caused by an EF-4 tornado, officials estimate it will take tens of millions of dollars to repair and restore parts of the University of Southern Mississippi.
The Board of Trustees for State Institutions of Higher Learning held a meeting Wednesday afternoon in which they voted unanimously to allow IHL Commissioner Hank Bounds to make approvals such as contractual purchases or legal issues without board approval. This will allow Bounds to authorize these actions as necessary instead of waiting until the next board meeting.
As the tornado pummeled the Pine Belt, it devastated many homes and businesses in Hattiesburg, leaving wreckage that will take months to repair. At Southern Miss, many historic areas took a hit.
The iconic Ogletree Alumni House, built in 1912 to serve as the president’s home, received a majority of its damage on the southeast side of the building, where the roof and walls were blown away. The front columns, along with brick and windows, were also damaged during the storm.
The historic District, which serves as a landmark and tailgating section for the university, lost most of its trees, many of which were hundreds of years old. The Lake Byron bridge was also heavily damaged, along with the Rose Garden and the new fence that runs along Hardy Street.
The Department of Music was the only part of campus that has classes and was damaged by the tornado. The Jazz Station was completely destroyed, which held many jazz concerts, ensembles and practices. The Performing Arts Center (PAC) received some water damage in a few of its classrooms and roof damage. The Fine Arts Building (FAB) suffered water damage, broken windows and doors and debris intake. The newly renovated auditorium in Marsh Hall also experienced damage to its wood floors. It does not appear there is a substantial amount of damage to either personal or university equipment.
Other buildings on campus received such damage as broken windows or paneling, and some university vehicles also had blown out windows and water damage.
Most of the damage is expected to be covered by a $500 million insurance policy, which has a $100,000 deductible. The insurance plan will also pay an estimated $400,000 to rent and set up 16 portable classrooms on the north side of campus, according to Bounds.
Bounds said 87 class sections will be in temporary quarters while they repair the fine arts area of campus. He also said officials are currently concerned with continuing cleanup to make campus safe before shifting the focus to the rebuild effort.