Little progress in Pass Christian

Mississippi Clarion-Ledger

Friday 23 December 2005, 8:43 pm

By Lorinda Bullock

No water, piles of debris leave residents frustrated

PASS CHRISTIAN — Progress is a word that has taken on many meanings here. To some, it's the area's first gas station reopening three months after Hurricane Katrina destroyed 80 percent of this coastal city. To others, it's getting clean water, which many of the 6,500 residents won't see for a while because the city's water system was virtually destroyed. Some residents view progress as finally getting to move into FEMA trailers, while others continue to camp out in tents.

Dan Ellis, a local historian, said he will acknowledge progress when he can leave his apartment in Eureka Springs, Ark., find the debris removed from his yard in Pass Christian and have a permit in his hand to rebuild the house he lost. "Every time I started going back, there was so little change," he said of the tons of debris that remain to be cleared.

City Alderman Donald Moore said a large number of Pass Christian residents won't or can't come back because of the lack of clean water, infrastructure and one of the most coveted items in town — a building permit. With 80 percent of the city in ruins, you can't just pass out building permits, zoning director Peggy Johnson said.

Nearly 3,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, she said. So far, 193 building permits have been processed and, of those, about 160 issued. The office has approved 300 FEMA trailer permits.

One couple is living in a trailer they received three months after Katrina destroyed their house. "I got a brand new trailer, and it leaks. The heaters don't work, and the doors don't lock."