Schools Still Recovering From Rita

January 17, 2005
Reported by Vince Atkinson

Its been months since Hurricane Rita slammed ashore, but many businesses and organizations are just beginning to fully understand the economic impact. It is no secret that the Calcasieu Parish School System was hard hit by the hurricane, but now it seems the damages were even worse than first expected.

The majority of schools in Calcasieu Parish are back up and running, but this comes after months of costly repair work. Now that the repairs are being added up, it looks like Rita came with a huge price tag.  Ceiling tiles, roofs, and downed trees all had to be cleaned up in Calcasieu Parish before classes could resume.  Calcasieu Parish School System Chief Financial Officer Karl Bruchhaus says, "Textbooks, we lost almost $200,000 in textbooks. Library books, $258,000. ... Food loss, $539,000 of food we lost."  The school system also sufford more than a $300,000 loss in damaged computers.  Bruchhaus says, "We are going to have at least $17,000,000 in cost before it is over, at least that much I feel sure."

The school system's insurance will most likely cover the majority of the cost, and FEMA could pick up a good portion of the remainder.  That has left many school board members asking some important questions.  School board members want to know if school administrative staff feel they are being treated fairly by insurance and FEMA.  At this point, school administrators say things are going well.

It is too soon to tell just how much money the Calcasieu Parish School System will loose because of the hurricane. That bottom line all depends on the response from insurance and FEMA.