[00:01.00]Now is the time that students and teachers are supposed to be beginning a new year together.
[00:09.58]But those affected by Hurricane Harvey, which struck Texas earlier this month, have to change their plans.
[00:19.44]The hurricane damaged an area more than 480 kilometers along the Gulf Coast.
[00:29.19]It affected more than 1 million students and 220 school districts.
[00:36.85]Officials in many of those districts are still examining their properties to see if people can even come on campus.
[00:47.64]In Houston, the largest school district, the superintendent says he is bringing in crisis counselors to help students traumatized by the storm.
[01:00.69]The hurricane poured more than 100 centimeters of water on the city.
[01:07.13]Superintendent Richard Carranza added that employees have also been affected by the storm.
[01:14.29]"They have lost everything and [are] coming to work and expected to provide support and encouragement to students," Carranza said.
[01:24.94]He said it does not matter how well you plan for an emergency.
[01:30.53]"The true impact of a situation of this magnitude is something that no one can really plan for."
[01:39.21]Some school leaders who have survived similar disasters are sharing their advice.
[01:46.23]Kerry Sachetta is the assistant superintendent for operations in Joplin, Missouri.
[01:53.67]Sachetta’s school district was destroyed by a tornado in 2011.
[01:59.82]She says the first priority is safety.
[02:03.71]“You have to first take care of your own situation before you can help someone else," Sanchetta said.
[02:13.31]Frank Scarafile is the superintendent of the Little Ferry school district in New Jersey.
[02:20.64]In late October 2012, most of Little Ferry was underwater after a nearby river overflowed.
[02:30.30]The flood caused nearly $6 million in damages to the district's two buildings.
[02:37.10]The district closed for two weeks.
[02:40.76]Scarafile said that once his students were back in school, teachers looked for signs of trauma.
[02:49.43]"When you had a really bad rainstorm afterwards, their fear was that they were going to get flooded again," Scarafile said.
[02:58.51]"They were afraid. That was part of getting displaced…that was part of losing everything. There was a lot of anxiety."
[03:09.09]Robert Romines is the superintendent in Moore, Oklahoma.
[03:14.44]He agrees that after a natural disaster, mental health should become a priority for school leadership.
[03:22.69]Mental health is especially important for communities where children may be experiencing death and trauma for the first time, he said.
[03:33.19]Angela Stallings is the associate superintendent for the Pasadena Independent School District near Houston.
[03:41.21]One of their high schools was used as an emergency shelter during the storm.
[03:47.67]Stallings said that she is already hearing about students’ feelings of anxiety.
[03:54.61]Her district will be offering counselors for a long time, she said.
[04:00.63]Carol Salva teaches English-language development in the Spring Branch district in Houston.
[04:07.45]She spent a few tense days at home with two of her children, ages 10 and 13, before finally deciding to evacuate.
[04:19.78]Her neighborhood did not have an order to leave. However, her home would have been in the "path of destruction" if one of the nearby dams broke.
[04:30.88]Neighbors were leaving, and helicopters were rescuing some people in nearby neighborhoods.
[04:38.04]"It's just very scary to live so close to those reservoirs that you're seeing on the news," she said.
[04:45.94]Salva finally left the neighborhood three days after the storm.
[04:50.89]She is already thinking about how to discuss the disaster once she returns to school.
[04:57.12]She is especially worried about how the storm affected some of the refugees who had recently settled in the area.
[05:06.34]Hurricane Harvey will also affect students who do not go to school in places struck by the storm.
[05:13.97]Their districts will have to accept children who can no longer return to their schools.
[05:20.00]Last week, the Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio districts were preparing to take in displaced students.
[05:30.93]People throughout the region were offering services and support to help them.
[05:36.73]Superintendent Nicholas Gledich, whose district suffered a forest fire in 2012, knows the impact a natural disaster has on all communities.
[05:49.04]"You know in your heart and your mind that Houston needs support and resources,” said Gledich.
[05:55.49]“But let me tell you, those other districts will need resources too."
[06:01.48]I’m Phil Dierking