KANSAS CITY (Covering Katy News) – A news radio station in Kansas City turned to Covering Katy when looking for advice on how people on the East Coast could survive the expected flooding of Hurricane Florence, which, just like Hurricane Harvey, is expected to drop record amounts of rain over the same locations over the next several days.
The radio station hosted a live telephone interview with Covering Katy publisher Dennis Spellman to talk about lessons learned after Harvey. They wanted helpful advice that could be utilized to help the victims of Hurricane Florence.
Spellman spoke of how the Katy Independent School District used its assets to help people in their time of need. He listed the various ways that Katy ISD came to the community’s rescue, suggesting that school districts all over the country could use the Katy ISD emergency response as a template for how to do it right.
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“Our school buses were used for high water rescue,” Spellman said.
He noted that you can’t get a car down a road with three feet of water, but you may be able to get a school bus down that same road. Spellman recalled that the school district’s help did not stop with school buses.
“Two of our high schools were opened as shelters, a third school – a junior high school – was also opened as a shelter when the high schools were overrun by people who needed help,” he told the Kansas City radio audience.
“Then Katy ISD used a third high school as a headquarters for the National Guard. They also used a football stadium and the nearby trade high school for other rescue operations run by the State of Texas,” he added.
Spellman said the school system did such a remarkable job in Katy that it proves how important it is for school districts on the East Coast to take part in the Florence recovery effort once the storm is over.
“Our superintendent had the foresight to realize that people needed normalcy when the storm was over,” Spellman said. “Their houses were destroyed and parents had to watch out for their kids; they had insurance adjusters to deal with; they had to throw away furniture, rip out drywall,” he recalled. Spellman gave Katy ISD Superintendent Lance Hindt credit for getting the schools open quickly so the community could jump-start its road to normalcy. Parents could more easily focus on rebuilding their damaged homes knowing their kids were safely back at school.
“It gave the parent more time to really focus on recovery,” he said. “Our school system was one of the first, if not the first, in the Houston area to come back to school, and it made a big difference [in the lives of residents.]”
“I think anyone who is involved in a school system in those [coastal Atlantic] communities should be thinking ahead about things like making sure their buses are on high ground so that once the rain stops they can get their bus drivers in … to get people out of their homes.”