OFISD to restart 9/9; other schools 9/14
Last updated 9/7/2020 at 12:24pm
Little Cypress-Mauriceville and West Orange-Cove announced Friday evening that their primary and secondary schools will not be able to hold class for at least another week because of damage done by Hurricane Laura.
Barring discovery of further problems, Monday, Sept. 14 should see all area schools returning to the mission of education as much as is possible under the still-with-us COVID-19 pandemic, which first affected area schools in mid-March.
Bridge City public schools and Lamar State College Orange had set Sept. 14 as their restart date earlier in the past week, after schools closed Monday, Aug. 25, in light of a countywide evacuation order.
Orangefield ISD announced earlier Monday its current plan is to restart Wednesday, Sept. 9.
Many have credited the early evacuation orders with the absence of any direct storm deaths in Orange County, but Hurricane Laura left a trail of destruction that will test once again the resiliency of Southeast Texans.
The hurricane made landfall as a Category 4 storm 15 miles east of Orange in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, early on Aug. 27 and lashed Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes with storm surge of 10 feet and winds of up to 150 miles per hour.
Gusts in Orange County were clocked as high as 100 mph and ripped the roofs off homes and buildings, peeling back metal roofs and awnings, and pushed down power poles and trees that crashed onto power lines and then pulled down the poles. Much of the county was without electricity for a week.
Hurricane Laura struck after the entire United States has struggled with five months of ever-changing school schedules altered by the COVID-19 pandemic and made an already uncertain situation even more tricky for students, parents, teachers and school administrators.
“LCM has significant damage from the storm,” said Sherry Combs, community relations coordinator for the district. “We lost the Transportation building and had damage to multiple buses that we are in the process of repairing.
"We will not be allowed to use these buses until the repairs are completed. We are also in the process of relocating Transportation at this time since the building took a very hard hit.”
Among buildings damaged in the district were LCM High School, Little Cypress Elementary and the district’s Vocational-Technology Building.
“The roofs are in the process of being patched until permanent repairs can be made,” Combs said. “We had water intrusion from the damaged roofs. Serve Pro is in the buildings cutting Sheetrock and drying out the impacted areas.”
Combs said the district is in the process of cleaning out spoiled food from freezers, sanitizing freezers and ordering new food to be delivered. She pointed out that the process could not begin until electricity had been restored.
Ironically, LCM’s high school parking lot has been used as a staging ground for hundreds of contract electrical workers in town to restore power after the storm.
Friday morning, Entergy Texas reported that Orange and the surrounding area had about 5,000 outages remaining to energize from the initial 35,000 outages and it hoped to have them all powered back up by dark Friday.
For its east Texas system reaching from northeast Houston, Entergy reported more than 291,000 customers were without power at some point because of the Aug. 27 storm, and only 6,200 of those remained out of service Friday morning.