Schools suffer minor damage from Gustav

Published 11:05 pm Saturday, September 6, 2008

Schools in the southern part of Pearl River County and in Hancock County suffered only minor damage from Hurricane Gustav.

Four school districts reported minor damage as a result of the feeder bands that passed through the county, but with Hurricane Ike apparently on a path for the Gulf of Mexico and several more likely to form, officials are planning for a busy storm season.

Most school districts that did report damage said it was due to wind and wind-driven water.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Picayune School District Superintendent Dean Shaw said there were some roofs that formed leaks at some schools, causing some classrooms to get wet. Intercom problems also were attributed to the storm.

Dennis Penton, Pearl River County School District superintendent, said damage was minimal. An awning was damaged at the district’s Central Office and there have been reports of some mild to moderate roof leaks at some schools. A fence was damaged when a tree fell across it.

Hancock Countyschools may have suffered the most damage, but still not on the level of what the district suffered during Hurricane Katrina. Damage reported at the Hancock School District due to Gustav was attributed to wind-driven rain penetrating structures. So far, the district has noticed some wind damage to some of the school buildings, said Superintendent Allan Dedeaux. The district is still assessing the extent of the damage to schools by using teachers and administrators.

The storm did not affect Poplarville school district other than some minimal damage from wind-blown water, said Superintendent Carl Merritt.

Most schools plan to use the same procedures of preparation for Hurricane Ike and future storms that they did for Hurricane Gustav. Since those plans worked well, there is little to no need for modification. Shaw said a meeting will be held with school district directors, administration and transportation personnel to prepare for any future storms. The maintenance department is already prepared to board up any windows and pick up lose debris left from Gustav.

Pearl River County school district will also follow the same plan they did for Gustav for future storms. Windows will be boarded and a manual call list will notify personnel of emergency plans.

“We’re pretty pleased with the preparation we had in place,” Penton said.

Hancock County School District, being closer to the coast than Pearl River County’s school districts, is keeping a close eye on storms expected to threaten the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Dedeaux said the district is staying in touch with Hancock County’s Emergency Operations Center to gather information the district can use to make plans. Administrators also have picked up some pointers from the most recent storm.

“Gustav was a good practice run for us,” Dedeaux said.

Buses will be moved from flood zones and an automated calling system will keep residents and students informed about school schedules.