Damages to Mississippi Colleges Estimated at $673 Million
Hurricane Katrina will cost Mississippi’s community colleges and universities close to $700 million, the state College Board said.
Richard Crofts, commission of higher education, said that the most heavily damaged schools were in south Mississippi.
The University of Southern Mississippi may have to build a new campus on the coast, and Gulf Coast Community College, Pearl River Community College and William Carey College sustained heavy damage.
Croft said 5,000 to 10,000 college students have been displaced by the storm.
“Some of these students and families were adequately supported through financial aid and personal income before the storm. But they have seen everything they own destroyed,” he said. “How can a family even consider higher education when the home and job are both gone.”
The damage estimates will be provided to the state and federal authorities, who will likely request special appropriations to help the institutions and students cope with cost of the storm.
Nearly $500 million of the estimated cost is in actual damages to college facilities while displaced students, housing of evacuees and other factors will increase the total losses.
“While these estimates are preliminary, they do show how difficult it may be for some our institutions to remain viable after Katrina,” Crofts said. “We’re exploring every possible avenue to stabilize higher education in Mississippi in this present crisis.”
— Associated Press
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