Orange County school district repairing July's flood damages to be ready for new school year
An Orange County school district that sustained damages during July's storms is making repairs to be ready for the new school year.
Highland Falls Fort Montgomery School District officials says it is still discovering damage to its elementary, intermediate and high schools.
Floors in the James O'Neill High School library, the hallways and auditorium had to be torn up after flooding.
Several ground floor classrooms in the intermediate school were also flooded out. School district officials say almost all of it is going to be fixed before the school year begins.
The district, however, still has to figure out how to pay for the repairs at the school.
"We have flood insurance, but that's only going to take us so far," says Highland Falls Fort Montgomery Schools Superintendent Michael McElduff.
McElduff says the insurance is going to cover up to $1 million, but the schools sustained way more than $1 million worth of damages. Without any other state or federal assistance, the rest would come from tax dollars but McElduff is trying to prevent that.
"Our families lost their homes so much, and to then have to say, 'Well, we also we're going to be using money to repair the flood damage with only taxpayer money,' I don't believe is right," McElduff says.
He says he is getting help from Rep. Pat Ryan to try to get money through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. State lawmakers are also trying to secure emergency funds through the state education department.
"We were talking with a lot of the officers up there, as well as the superintendent, about what we can do to help them get that money," says State Assembly Member Chris Eachus.
School officials are worrying first about finishing the work and then the money.
Contractors have been coming in and out of all three schools, all day, working on floors, roofs and everything in between. As of Thursday, they have 19 days until the first day of school on Sept. 5.
McElduff says the athletic fields and the auditorium stage might not be ready in time for the first day of school, but everything else will be, including the hallways and the seven classrooms at the intermediate school that were flooded.
The district is also trying to figure out busing. McElduff says the district is working with its transportation provider to modify any routes and stops that were affected by the storm. He says he will inform families by next Friday about bus schedules.