Livingston Parish continues Hurricane Ida response

A woman walks in front of Albany Upper Elementary following Hurricane Ida on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.

The Livingston Parish Public Schools system, which has been closed since Hurricane Ida struck the state, plans to reopen “many” campuses by Friday, Sept. 10, according to its superintendent.

A list of reopening schools will be released on Wednesday, Sept. 8, and all schools will remain closed through at least Thursday.

School was already out Monday for the Labor Day Holiday.

Campuses haven't been open since Friday, Aug. 27, which was two days before Hurricane Ida hit the state as one of the strongest storms on record. After striking Port Fourchon, Ida shifted east and went directly through Livingston Parish, mostly as a hurricane before being downgraded to a tropical storm 50 miles northeast of Baton Rouge.

In a statement, Superintendent Joe Murphy said school officials are working with the staff at each campus “to determine which have full power, clean drinking water and basic connectivity to safely and effectively reopen to students.”

At the height of the storm, 95 percent of the district’s buildings were without power, and many are in areas under boil water advisories.

All 12-month employees — central office personnel, school principals and some custodial staff — are returning to work on Tuesday, Sept. 7, Murphy said. All other school employees will return on Thursday, Sept. 9.

Murphy said all athletic activities will resume this week but that no competitions will be held before Thursday, Sept. 9.

He encouraged families to check their school’s social media feeds for updated information as well as the district’s social media pages.

“Thank you for your patience as we move to return our children to our campuses this week,” Murphy said in a statement.

In an interview with The News last week, Murphy said damage from Ida was mainly confined to awnings and canopies and that no campuses flooded, though some had some “water intrusion.”

Though some campuses suffered more damage than others, Murphy said that the majority of buildings were “structurally sound.”

Murphy noted that, because of the historic 2016 flood, the school system already had disaster contracts in place to expedite debris removal and repairs. The School Board also approved “much more extensive insurance coverage on all our campuses and buildings” after the flood.

Murphy said school leaders are confident that any eligible damage will be covered through insurance or federal assistance.

“That gives us a leg up on being able to seek reimbursement in a much timelier fashion,” he said. “Our insurance will cover wind, debris, and water damage. Therefore, the board’s action to provide more comprehensive insurance has placed us in a much better position to respond to this natural disaster than in 2016.”

Murphy said the first priority for recovery was contacting Guaranty Restoration, the district’s restoration and remedial firm. The firm did assessments “immediately and reacted to any existing roof issues with temporary repairs,” Murphy said.

Guaranty Restoration was in the process of removing debris and will then initiate permanent repairs for roofs late last week.

Because of the 2016 flood, Murphy said the district is better positioned to handle a crisis than it was five years ago.

“Now are we going to face our hurdles? Yeah, but we’re in a much better position now than we were in 2016,” he said. “We are a lot better versed on how to go about this than in 2016, and we’ve got great resources that we’ve already deployed.”

(1) comment

Gina Schmidt

For many families in Livingston Parish, the opening of schools is a much-needed sign of hope and resilience. I will read https://washingtonindependent.com/keep-these-criteria-in-mind/ article now to enhance my knowledge. The opening of schools marks a return to normalcy for some families.

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