AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin elementary school will not be open Monday after the building took a hit during the major storm that left parts of Central Texas underwater.
Officials with the Austin Independent School District tell KXAN the relentless rain left four to five inches of standing water inside Palm Elementary School in Southeast Austin on Friday. Palm Elementary is located next to Onion Creek on Dixie Drive, which is near William Cannon Drive and South Pleasant Valley Road.
“We could see water basically running in through the bottom of the door,” says special education teacher Cindy Stanford.
The district indicated at one point during the storms they were going to evacuate the campus, but decided to have staff and students stay put until the water receded on nearby roadways.
The flood waters damaged 23 classrooms at Palm.
“It’s one that has been here and has gone with me to every room at Palm.”
Special Education teacher, Cindy Stanford feels the dampness of her favorite rug in her classroom, but it’s nothing compared to what storm water did to other parts of the building.
The music room got it the worst, about five inches of water flooded the room, forcing the carpet to be torn up. There’s more than 100 de-humidifiers, air scrubbers and air cleaners throughout this building.
Crews are trying to air out and assess the damage, like a cello that got soaked.
“Seeing that things are already in the process of being repaired, that was a little tough at that point because the reality of it really sunk in,” says Stanford.
Staff is working tirelessly, for the kids.
“To try to be sure that everything is going to be fine for the students when they come back to school,” says bilingual special education teacher Bellanira Flores.
AISD restoration crews have been busy removing water from the building, and estimate it will take three to four weeks to get the campus safe and fully operational.
On Saturday night, the district notified staff members about the damage, and sent recorded phone message to parents at Palm Elementary on Sunday morning to let them know their children do not need to report to school Monday.
Officials say half of the building was not affected by floodwaters.
Some of the staff and students can continue meeting in the undamaged part of the building starting Tuesday, but not everyone can fit so there is a temporary plan for everyone else.
Staff will report to the campus Monday to prepare for the return of students on Tuesday.
A plan is in place for students to return to school Tuesday.
Starting Tuesday, pre-K, kindergarten and first-grade students will report to Palm Elementary School in the morning, and then AISD will transport some of the students to the Allan Center at 4900 Gonzales St.
AISD personnel will return students to Palm at the end of the day so students can walk home with siblings or participate in Extend-a-Care at the end of the school day. This is just temporary, and could last for about a week. The district is exploring other solutions, which may include moving portable classrooms to Palm.
AISD will hold two parent meetings Monday, one at 10 a.m. and the other at 6 p.m. to share all this information with parents and to answer any questions.
If you’re interested in donating, AISD has set up an account for teachers who lost supplies — many of which they purchased with their own money. That means it may not be covered by insurance.