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ERIC Number: ED498862
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Sep
Pages: 136
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Assessment of Hurricane Katrina Damage to New Orleans Public School Facilities
Council of the Great City Schools
Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the United States on August 29, 2005, and triggered one of the most devastating natural disasters in the history of the nation. New Orleans, in particular, and the schools that served the community's children, suffered severe storm damage and massive flooding. Central to the city's strategy of getting back on its feet was reopening as many of the city's schools as soon as possible. To begin the process of determining the condition of the buildings in the school system, the school superintendent asked the Council of the Great City Schools to review and assess a number of schools to determine which, if any, could be reopened in relatively short order. The group was specifically asked to: (1) Conduct a preliminary assessment of at least 16 schools in the New Orleans school district; (2) Determine the extent of damage caused to the school buildings by Hurricane Katrina; (3) Determine whether any of the schools could be reopened within 60 to 120 days; (4) Identify which eight-to-ten schools could be brought back into operation the fastest; and (5) Make a series of recommendations to the district about next steps in the rebuilding process. Twenty-one schools were visited, and the following general observations recorded: (1) Most of the buildings inspected by the team experienced minor to moderate storm damage; (2) At least 15 of the 21 schools inspected could be brought back online within 45 days from date of inspection, contingent on the availability of contractors; (3) Many of the schools were in various states of disrepair or had numerous life/safety code violations; (4) Much of the water damage the teams observed appeared to have come through broken or blown out windows, roof vents, roof dormers and skylights; (5) The district will have to find ways outside of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) process to spruce up the schools that it opens first; (6) The district may be too optimistic about the availability of contractors and overly optimistic about how long the entire reclaiming process will take; (7) The district had not secured contractors at the time of the site visits to begin renovating the schools; and (8) The district will be eligible for disaster mitigation grants, which should be requested within a few months. Eleven recommendations were offered: (1) Begin drying out buildings and conducting emergency patching to prevent additional rain damage over the next three months while repairs are being arranged and conducted; (2) Take the opportunity that the disaster presents to fix up the district's schools and keep them repaired; (3) Address major life safety issues in schools that are to be opened soonest; (4) Get grass cut around all schools to be reopened; (5) Conduct an immediate effort to paint and do other cosmetic repairs on the schools that the district opens immediately; (6) Concentrate available resources on the schools to be reopened; (7) Expect that the process of resolving issues with FEMA and the insurance industry could take upwards of ten years; (8) Accompany FEMA and insurance representatives on any additional building assessments and site visits; (9) Assign a person to lead and a team of staff to work exclusively on FEMA and insurance claim issues; (10) Immediately secure a contractor to being the repair work; and (11) Expect that the entire rebuilding and FEMA rebuilding effort will probably take seven to ten years. (The report contains two appendixes: (1) Strategic Support Team; and (2) About the Council. Photographs and chart of specific findings for each school visited are included.)
Council of the Great City Schools. 1301 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Suite 702, Washington, DC 20004. Tel: 202-393-2427; Fax: 202-393-2400; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Council of the Great City Schools, Washington, DC.
Identifiers - Location: Louisiana