Posted Date: 06/08/2021
BPSB Hurricane Recovery Update
June 8, 2021
The Beauregard Parish school system has been working on hurricane recovery for schools and related facilities since the Category 4 Hurricane Laura struck SW Louisiana on August 27, 2020. The process continues with assessment and documentation of damages, coordination of insurance, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), and GOHSEP (Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness of Louisiana) officials, and repairs to the school buildings.
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, Beauregard Parish schools sustained a tremendous amount of damage that we have been working on repairing since August,” explained Assistant Superintendent Marlin Ramsey. “There are many entities involved in this process, and we are diligently trying to coordinate to the maximum benefit as we repair and upgrade our schools.”
Members of the BPSB staff were on the ground the day after Hurricane Laura assessing damages and beginning clean-up. Additionally, the school board hired Cotton Global Disaster Solutions to begin work on school restoration and stabilizing the environments through climate control. Larger generators and circulation units were set up at four schools that received heavy water damage to the interior in an effort to dehumidify the schools until electricity could be restored and the damaged areas secured.
Insurance adjusters were immediately on the ground working with BPSB officials and the Cotton employees. In September 2020, the school board approved a request for proposal which led to hiring Plexos consulting and representation services for disaster recovery. Plexos officials work with insurance, FEMA, GOHSEP, architects, contractors, and BPSB officials in the recovery process to ensure proper documentation and help in the process of requesting funds.
After the initial damage assessment, Plexos began a damage inventory based on seven FEMA categories. FEMA provides funds to rebuild the property so that it can withstand a future similar storm and focuses on issues that mitigate future damage. A Project Worksheet is created from the inventory and is the official document used for negotiating with FEMA.
At the same time, insurance adjusters created a separate list of damages. BPSB works with four separate insurance agencies covering 13 schools and other related facilities. Insurance pays for damages incurred by the storms and provides funds to restore the property to what it was before the damage, based on the details of the policy.
“Balancing damages incurred at all of our facilities with the different criteria for insurance payments and FEMA and GOHSEP funds is a huge undertaking,” explained Ramsey. “The officials from Plexos have been invaluable in helping keep all the information detailed and categorized so that our employees and board can make informed decisions of how to best proceed with repairs and upgrades to our schools and facilities.”
South Beauregard Upper Elementary and South Beauregard High School combined sustained the greatest amount of damage. Repairs will include new roofs, new AC units, upgrading doors and windows to current hurricane standards, and repairs throughout the schools. Damage to the school athletic facility and football field are being addressed with a plan of having the field playable by the fall.
East Beauregard schools sustained substantial damages with roof needs and interior repair to the cafeteria and auditorium, which is in the bidding process currently. Plans to replace the field house and repair the band hall are also underway.
The Carver Elementary library roof was peeled from the building exposing the library and connected hallway to major damage. A new roof has been installed on the building and bids for the additional repairs as well as library contents are in process.
All other schools sustained some damage, but the needs have been and are being addressed by BPSB personnel. Damages to athletic facilities, ball fields, and lighting have been mostly repaired with 90% of all softball and baseball fields functioning for the spring season. The DeRidder High School field house, press box, and concession stand have quotes submitted and plans are to be operational by the fall football season.
“We began the restoration process the day after the hurricane and are still in the process of detailing damages,” said Ramsey. “But we have also been working diligently to restore and repair as much as we can with the resources and expertise available to us.”
“We are engaging with our partners every day to make progress in having our students back in their schools and using all the facilities that we have come to expect as part of a well-rounded education in Beauregard Parish schools,” he concluded. “I want to thank the public, our employees, parents, and students for your patience and help as we continue the recovery process.”