‘It’s a challenge’ some St. Charles Parish schools reopen after Hurricane Ida

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 12:35 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It’s the second first day of classes for some St. Charles students.

“I feel excited the kids are back in school,” said retired teacher Kim Frickey, as she dropped her kids off at R.J. Vial Elementary. “I just couldn’t wait. They need to have their sociability again.”

Parents, Frickey, say they’re grateful their kids are back in school so they have some sense of normalcy.

“It’s a challenge. Every day we’re just trying to figure things out, take one step at a time,” said Bambi Simoneaux. “But we’re glad to have them back in school.”

Simoneaux says compared to her neighbors, her home is fine. The storm caused some interior flooding and structural damage to the attic, “you know we’re just getting through it one day at a time,” she said.

Today, seven phase-one schools reopen for the first time since Hurricane Ida: Ethel Schoeffner Elementary School, Luling Elementary School, Mimosa Park Elementary School, R.J. Vial Elementary School, Rose Elementary School, Albert Cammon Middle School and J.B. Martin Middle School.

“It feels great,” said JB Martin Principal Steven Guitterrez. “I kind of got some chills when the kids were coming in this morning. I guess it’s one of those things, you don’t know what you really have until it’s gone for a little while.”

Guitterrez says JB Martin faired better than others. It had some roof damage.

Other schools like Destrehan High have significant damage, “Destrehan high school we had a complete building, ceiling collapse so the roof actually collapsed on top of our buildings,” Superintendent Ken Oertling explained. “At Hahnville high school one of our building’s roof was completely removed so you can imagine 14 classrooms just being inundated with water.”

Oertling says it could cost between $40 and $50 million dollars on repairs, “just between the mitigation efforts, debris removal, renovations, repairs, and then we have some structures that took significant damage and so those are long term repairs as well.”

He says the district hopes to reopen phase two schools by the end of next week and phase three schools shortly after.

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