Hurricane recovery: Sen. Cassidy visits Barbe High School
Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Nearly two years later and Calcasieu schools still have so much left to fix from the 2020 hurricanes. Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy (R) made the trip to Lake Charles and got to see firsthand some of the damage that remains at Barbe High School.
Calcasieu Parish school leaders called on Sen. Cassidy for help to aid with recovery funds for the schools in the district. Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus said he wants students to have the opportunity to experience learning in a typical classroom without the distractions caused by the hurricanes.
“That’s why we’ve had this sense of urgency first to get back at school right after the storms, as quickly as possible. And now to get this fix and get them back into an environment where their comfortable and cool and ready to learn everyday,” Bruchhaus said.
Cassidy came through Barbe High School and got to see where water poured from Sunday night’s rain storm, a temporary roof not meant to last two years, and the basketball court sits as just a slab of concrete.
“They’ve gotten to where they’re serviceable,” Cassidy said. “Children can attend school, but they can’t have a home basketball game. They can have all those other things that we know are part of a high school experience.”
Cassidy said he applauds CPSB for still making the school a place to learn but it’s time for FEMA to step up.
“Congratulations to the school, the teachers, the students, the families because they’re still making this a place where they can learn and otherwise have the experience of being a teenager, but by golly we need to get FEMA off the mark to get the dollars to finish building this back,” he said.
Bruchhaus said that construction on Barbe is estimated to cost approximately $26 million and only a portion of that has been bid out. Other projects in the parish like Sulphur High School, estimated upward of $20 million, has not been placed for bid at all.
“We have $260 million to do in permanent construction. I don’t want people to believe that’s all been bid out. It can’t be bid out because we don’t have the cash to do it. We’re still waiting on reimbursement from our first project,” Cassidy said.
The urgency for Calcasieu to get the funds they need is narrowing. If CPSB doesn’t receive additional FEMA reimbursement by July 21, construction could come to a halt.
Bruchhaus and other school leaders are hoping Cassidy will now put the pressure on FEMA to take action so Calcasieu schools can get back on track.
Copyright 2022 KPLC. All rights reserved.