DESTREHAN (WVUE) — There was a sense of excitement in the air as 1,300 Destrehan High School students got out of their cars or buses for the first day of classes on campus.
The school has been under repair for 141 days – since Hurricane Ida devastated southeast Louisiana and caused the roof of Destrehan High to collapse, among other things.
“As far as damage to this building alone, it’s astronomical because we lost the entire commons (area), library and administrative offices,” said Destrehan Senior Manager Jason Madeira.
READ MORE Destrehan High School will reopen on Tuesday, January 18 for the first time since Hurricane Ida
Headteachers say construction crews have been working around the clock, despite supply issues and costs, to get the campus back in shape. However, school is not 100% back, with a few projects on hold that still need to be serviced with no timeline or price tag yet.
“It’s a whole process that has to go through a bidding process,” Madere said. “That’s why we currently have temporary laptops on campus to house our administrative team. The library has a new location to operate the library. We have made adjustments. We are happy to be back.
Returning to campus was something teachers, professors and students like senior class president Kailie Carrige had been anticipating since the storm passed.
“We’re just thrilled to be back on our own campus, on our own playground after the storm,” Carrige said. “Coming back (after Hurricane Ida) and seeing the community in ruins was truly heartbreaking. But St. Charles Parish is strong. We are unlike any other parish in Louisiana. I knew we would be okay with rebuild.
The school year didn’t end for the Wildcats because they didn’t have a school. The student body reported to its district rivals at Hahnville High School for an alternating daytime schedule while repairs were underway.
The students say it was weird at first, but they adapted quickly thanks to the kindness of Hahnville’s teachers and students.
“All of the staff and teachers at Hahnville have been so kind to us and so welcoming. It was really a good experience to be in Hahnville. It will be a story to tell for years to come,” said Carrige.
Carrige says she wants to plan a token of appreciation with her classmates for Hahnville High as a thank you for what the school has done for them in times of need.
And while all school sites in the district suffered damage from Ida, district leaders say preparing facilities for school in the aftermath of the storm is a testament to teachers, staff and local contractors.
“Work here has been seven days a week, 14 to 20 hours a day, since the storm passed,” Superintendent Dr. Ken Oertling said. “You can imagine the amount of work that has gone on here, the number of people who have come together to make sure this happens.”
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