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After Harvey, a Long Road to Recovery for Houston Schools

2017-09-13

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[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.
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  • 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
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