TERREBONNE PARISH, La. — The front doors at Houma Junior High School are set to reopen Sept. 27, a month after Hurricane Ida ripped the roof off, leaving water damage on both floors.
“You’ve got all the ceiling tile, all the dry wall, it’s all got to come out,” Superintendent Philip Martin said.
The school is one of 13 within the Terrebonne Parish School District set to reopen Monday, part of phase one in getting kids back in the classroom, but there’s still a lot of work to do as crews clean and repair.
“This is all temporary mitigation, temporary fixes,” Martin said.
Martin says all 34 district schools have some type of damage. The severity determines what phase a school will reopen. The damage is so bad at South Terrebonne High School, students will be sent to a H.L. Bourgeois High School 13 miles away in Gray.
“It’s absolutely heartbreaking,” said Allie Casey, CEO of Schoolplies, an online school supply business based in Houma.
To help make the transition into the classroom a little less stressful, Casey is turning her business into a virtual back to school drive. Hurricane Ida damaged her warehouse, sidelining her ability to sale and ship, so she’s shifting focus.
“We had tons of supplies left over and we can’t get it out of Houma,” Casey said. “So, we have the inventory right there in Houma. It only makes sense to put it back into our area and get our kids back in school.”
Casey is now partnering with organizations like the United Way of South Louisiana, turning that inventory into back-to-school kits and a school supply giveaway set for this weekend, Sept. 26, for students in Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes.
“You have your pencils, your crayons, your supply box, you’re given a notebook, erasers, pencil sharpeners, anything you really need on your first day of school,” Casey said.
Martin says when the district’s 17,600 students show up with supplies in hand, there will be challenges along the way.
“Our community is a strong resilient community. We’re going to bounce back. It’ll take us some time but we’re not quitters. We’ll get it done,” Martin said. “It will not be perfect. It will not be pretty, but we’re going to have school.”
With it, a pretty perfect way for some normalcy in a community that needs it.
For information on the virtual supply drive, visit the SchoolPlies website.
Information on the supply giveaway:
Sunday, Sept. 26 from 10am to 1pm.
Fletcher Technical Community College
1407 LA-311, Schriever, LA 70395