WASHINGTON - Federal hurricane recovery funds totaling $2.7 million were approved Wednesday to help rebuild schools and ports in South Mississippi damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
The grant money from FEMA will be split between the Hancock County School District and the City of Biloxi, according to Sens. Thad Cochran and Trent Lott, both Mississippi Republicans.
"It gives new impetus to recovery and our ability to attract people to relocate and go back," Cochran said.
Almost $1.5 million will be used to replace Gulfview Elementary School in Bay St. Louis, which was severely damaged by an eight-foot storm surge.
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The school was closed after Katrina damaged more than 51 percent of the 16,000-square-foot facility. Classes have been held in trailers behind Hancock Middle School in Kiln.
The new funding, combined with expected insurance proceeds, will allow the school district to start planning for construction of a new school building for Gulfview's approximately 550 students.
The balance of the grant, $1.2 million, will go to the City of Biloxi to replace piers, slips and other parts of the Small Craft Commercial Dock that were damaged or destroyed by Katrina's high winds and storm surge.
Both senators hailed the new grants as vital to the long-term recovery of South Mississippi.