At the height of Hurricane Harvey flooding, Brookside Intermediate School was inundated with anywhere from 2 feet to 4 feet of water, officials said.
What has happened since is nothing short of a miracle, Principal Lauren Berryman-Ambeau said.
In less than a week, campus officials, with a mishmash of volunteers and contractors and bringing in a variety of supplies and furniture from other facilities, prepared the Friendswood school to open Monday, like the other facilities in Clear Creek Independent School District.
“We wanted the community to feel like it had a safe place,” Berryman-Ambeau said. “It’s hard for parents and kids watching the rest of the world return to normal when you’re living in your fifth hotel since the storm.”
There are still a lot of repairs to do, Berryman-Ambeau said. But Tuesday, students ran through the halls and the campus had returned to some sense of normalcy.
Officials in school districts and campuses across Galveston County find themselves in similar positions — trying to conduct repairs while bringing classes back to normal.
Friendswood, League City and Dickinson were among the cities hardest hit by the massive flooding caused by Harvey’s torrential rain, and many residents were forced to evacuate.
At districts and campuses in those communities, officials were left wondering how to put it all back again.
“Brookside is our biggest problem,” said Paul Miller, director of facility services at Clear Creek Independent School District.
Harvey damaged 44 of the district’s 45 schools, but most of the damage was minor, officials said.
While officials focus significant attention to Brookside and several athletic facilities, there is not yet a firm date for when all of the repairs might be finished, Miller said.
“FEMA wants things a certain way, so we’re going to have to put out a request for proposals,” Miller said. “We’re hoping to be able to get those bid out and started working in the next several weeks.”
Shortages of materials and labor could slow the process once the contractors are in place, Miller said.
“In a lot of cases, we don’t necessarily shop in the same places as other homeowners do,” Miller said. “Some differences there might temper some of the impact.”
District officials are hopeful that Brookside will be repaired either by spring break or winter break, with other repairs finished about the same time, Miller said.
ACROSS THE COUNTY
Clear Creek Independent School District isn’t alone in uncertainty.
“There is really no way at this point to pinpoint timelines,” said Tammy Dowdy, spokeswoman for Dickinson Independent School District. “The district is just meeting with construction crews this week for Gator Academy and since the Bay Colony renovations will take place in limited times after hours, we are not sure of an exact time for it to be finished.”
While Dickinson was devastated in the flooding, district facilities fared comparatively well, Superintendent Vicki Mims said in an earlier interview.
The damage to district facilities included about 2 inches of water flooding parts of Bay Colony Elementary School and 4 feet of water in Gator Academy Day Care, an employee day care facility, officials said.
Gator Academy children are temporarily moved to Calder Road Elementary School and the students have been able to attend Bay Colony Elementary despite the flood damage, Dowdy said.
Other damage included the turf at Sam Vitanza Stadium and part of Kenneth E. Little Elementary School that is only used for storage, Dowdy said.
“Dickinson ISD resumed school Monday with a 94 percent attendance rate, which we felt was great considering the first day back and the challenging circumstances some of our families are experiencing due to the hurricane,” Dowdy said.
Meanwhile, Texas City ISD officials moved about 1,600 students from three La Marque campuses while repairs are being made.
The flood damage from Hurricane Harvey occurred at La Marque primary, elementary and middle schools, according to the school district.
Contractors are working on the damaged schools, but district officials were unsure when they might be ready for students and were concerned about remediation of mold, Superintendent Rodney Cavness said.
“The best ballpark idea for the completion of demo is two weeks,” said Melissa Tortorici, spokeswoman for the district. “But then, additional dry down would need to be completed before repair work can begin. We are still waiting on contractors to provide information on that, so I don’t have a timeline or even a best guess on that time frame at this time.”
SOME BETTER THAN OTHERS
As some districts determine how long repairs will take, officials at other county districts considered themselves relatively lucky.
“It wasn’t too bad,” said Chris Armacost, technology director at Hitchcock ISD. “We’ve got mostly new roofs at all our campuses, so we don’t have that leak problem like a lot of districts.”
The biggest damage was a downed power pole at Crosby Middle School, Armacost said.
District officials anticipate all district repairs will cost between $115,000 and $150,000, Armacost said.
Galveston has had minor leak problems and issues with the auditorium at Ball High School, but has been comparatively lucky, Superintendent Kelli Moulton said.
All repairs to Santa Fe facilities will be done by October, said Patti Hanssard, assistant superintendent for human resources.
While all repairs might not be made for some time, teachers at Brookside Intermediate School already have a sense of peace now that they are back on the campus, Berryman-Ambeau said.
“Learning may be secondary for a while,” she said. “The students’ needs come first.”