South Texas School Superintendent Estimates $12M in Flood Damage

By DIANA HEIDGERD | April 4, 2016

A Southeast Texas school district where flooding swamped an elementary school with 5 feet of water faces an estimated $12 million in losses and little insurance coverage, an administrator said Wednesday.

Deweyville Independent School District Superintendent Kevin Clark remained upbeat that classes would resume April 11 after an unplanned month off due to disastrous flooding in the town that’s about 100 miles northeast of Houston.

“The community has been great, a lot of volunteers. The surrounding school districts have really reached out to us and provided a lot of resources, we’re grateful for that,” Clark said during an interview with The Associated Press.

Deweyville ISD’s budget this year was $6.6 million, and the district does not have flood insurance, he said. Cleanup efforts continue at the elementary-school campus, but it will likely be declared a total loss, he said.

Clark, who used a boat to survey the damage, said the district has received little immediate recovery funding but hopes more government assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be available.

“They are tearing our flooring and some drywall, removing debris. That is the portion that FEMA has approved right now,” Clark said. “We’re paying for them as we go in hopes that we will receive some assistance.”

Rainstorms early this month and water releases from the Toledo Bend Reservoir led to flooding of the nearby Sabine River. Much of Deweyville, a Newton County town of about 1,000, was evacuated March 12. FEMA recovery centers opened Wednesday in Newton, Jasper and Orange, which are nearby storm-affected communities.

The Deweyville district’s more than 600 students have been out of school since March 11. Classes for all grades will resume next month in the undamaged junior-senior high school, Clark said.

Clark expects graduation May 27 as originally planned. “That is going to be our goal,” he said. He hopes for a Texas Education Agency waiver that could help trim the 15 flood-related missed school days to five.

Clark, who joined the school district last July, said that he’s trying to be positive.

“It all starts at the top. If I’m not optimistic it’s going to be a tough battle,” he said.

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