SUNO celebrates post-Katrina milestone

NEW ORLEANS, LA - Southern University of New Orleans celebrates a new semester with a long-awaited post-Katrina milestone. On Friday, the school said goodbye to the trailers that have been used for classes and offices since the storm.

"We are so happy to get rid of them right now, it's unbelievable," said SUNO Facilities Director Shaun Lewis.

He said the trailers were not supposed to be here six or seven years later.

"They were supposed to be here 18 months and then be removed," he said.

The moldy surfaces on the outside of the trailers show the upkeep was difficult.

"It was difficult to control the environment with the wall units, the doors open and the rain driving through."

A brand new modular building with 60,000 square feet of space will take the place of the trailers and damaged buildings on the park side of campus. The building will be ready to host classes on the first day of the new semester.

Student Jarred Jupiter is glad he'll have no more classes in the old metal buildings.

"A lot of times the classrooms were big enough, and a lot of times they were overfilled," Jupiter said.

It took years of red tape, but SUNO's share of FEMA funds came through to allow them to put the storm behind them.

On the park side of SUNO's campus, the scars of Katrina are still visible. Lewis said the first floor of several buildings are gutted.

"Because we had to get people out of these terrible trailers the state worked with us to move people in the second floor of those buildings. It was not enough space so we had to keep those trailers," Lewis said.

After the storm, progress continued at SUNO. A massive student housing complex, a business school and a book store opened for the first time since 2005.

By the end of March, all of the trailers will be photographed and the photos archived.

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