The EF-4 tornado that destroyed much of Hattiesburg in February 2013 left The University of Southern Mississippi facing major repairs. As a result of the tornado, the Physical Plant, Tree Management Task Force, Department of Biology and Neel-Schaffer, Inc. collaborated with one another to make The Front Campus Landscape Restoration and Enhancement Plan.
According to www.usmfoundation.com, many areas near the front of the campus were damaged, including Southern Hall, one of the university’s five original buildings that is still in existence.
Construction and renovations on the other areas that were damaged, including Lake Byron, began almost immediately. However, renovations have seemed to move at a slower speed concerning Southern Hall.
According to Assistant Director of Marketing and Campus Relations Michelle Shinall, the Physical Plant has already been working on the interior of the building. The other areas that are now left to be repaired are the outer parts of the building, including the corners. Shinall said since the building is older than most, certain areas such as the shingles on the roof, which were custom-made, involve a longer restoration process than other buildings that have not been on campus as long as Southern Hall.
Entertainment industry student Rebecca Huddelston took classes in Southern Hall before the tornado hit on Feb. 10, 2013. Huddelston said the building had been in need of repair for a while before that point in time. She also said she believes the reason Physical Plant has taken a while to work on the building is because so many others are in need of being repaired as well.
“I’m pretty sure it was due to be torn down when I lived there, but they had too many incoming freshmen, so they moved some of the upperclassmen to Elam,” Huddleston said.