The Onslow County (N.C.) school district estimates that it sustained an estimated $125 million in damage from Hurricane Florence.
The Jacksonville Daily News reports Onslow County Schools Superintendent Rick Stout disclosed the damage estimate prior to leading school board members and county officials on a tour of three campuses that sustained the most severe damage.
“It’s very disheartening; just devastating,” Onslow County Commissioner Robin Knapp said at the end of the tour. “This is what we are seeing now after they are being cleaned up. I can’t imagine what it looked like right after.”
Stout says the initial steps have been cleaning up and getting the school buildings dry and repaired, but there are still many issues beyond that, from the loss of instructional materials and food for school lunches to wiring for technology.
“A lot of the schools will need complete re-wiring in some places,” he says.
Schools in the district have been closed and about 26,000 students have been out of class since the hurricane swept through the area last month. Officials still do not know when classes will resume.
Much of the damage to Onslow County schools came from rain that saturated interiors after roofs were damaged by the high winds.
Getting the moisture out of the schools has been a major task. Industrial-sized fans are running throughout the buildings.
At Southwest High School, the roof over the gymnasium was damaged, and water flooded into the gym and outside corridor. The water damage caused the gym floor to buckle, damaged the wood bleachers and in the neighboring weight room, rust and corrosion can be seen all over equipment.
At White Oak High School, disaster recovery specialists were dressed in white protective suits as they worked in school, where damage was widespread.
At Northwoods Park Middle School, plastic covered desks as fans continued to run to dry out the rooms. In many damaged rooms, ceiling tiles have been removed, exposing wiring for technology that was damaged when water came in through the roof.