Louisiana Parish Working on Tornado-Damaged School Estimate

October 28, 2014

The tornadoes that hit Ouachita Parish on Oct. 13 did millions of dollars in damage, but officials don’t know whether it will be enough to qualify the parish for help from the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

Total damages are well over FEMA’s $6.3 million threshold – but for insured homes, businesses and parish property, only the deductible applies to estimates for FEMA, Homeland Security Director Archie Neal Brown told The News-Star.

“I can find $6 million worth of damage in the Garden District alone. But how many of those homes are not insured? You have to have a massive amount of damage to reach this threshold,” he said.

Officials hope to know by the end of the week whether they can apply for help from the agency.

The 300-yard-wide tornado that hit West Monroe High School did $2 million in damage there and another $1 million to other parish school system property.

Despite extensive damage to buildings and athletic facilities, the high school could have been occupied in less than four days. However, roads to the school were still dangerous, so the school stayed closed for a full week.

Architect Tim Brandon said first efforts included cleanup and safety issues such as downed power lines and falling plaster ceilings, followed by protecting the building from further damage.

The tornado that hit the school was one of two that hit Ouachita Parish that day. Straight-line winds inflicted additional damage.

“There are many factors in the puzzle that have to be put together, and it’s a very complicated and in-depth process to reach the threshold,” Brown said.

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