Storm can't crush a town's heart

Los Angeles Times

Tuesday 21 February 2006, 9:49 am

By Elizabeth Mehren, Times Staff Writer

Six months after Hurricane Katrina, entire blocks have been bulldozed, leaving eerie empty spaces — like missing teeth — where quaint neighborhoods once stood. "The Pass," as everyone calls it, is a patchwork of FEMA trailers, RVs and pop-up tents. The town center is a field of drab-green Army tents used as dwellings and offices. City Hall is a double-wide trailer, as are the police station and library.

"We can't escape the devastation. It's everywhere," said Martha Murphy, who has lived here for most of her 54 years. "But we see Pass Christian through our hearts, not just our eyes. We know it is going to change. We just want to retain what it had that made us love it."

About two-thirds of the town's 6,500 residents have returned — enough families that 7 out of 10 children who were enrolled in Pass Christian schools before the storm are attending classes in neighboring areas where schools were less damaged.

Every public building in town was destroyed by Katrina, along with almost all the businesses and about 80% of the homes. Pass Christian's tax rolls dropped from 4,000 structures to 170.,0,1760575.story?track=tottext