By the time Katy ISD reopened Sept. 11, after Tropical Storm Harvey paralyzed the district for six days, thousands of students and staff had been personally affected.
As of Sept. 11, an estimated 15,007 of the 77,835 enrolled KISD students were directly affected, many of whose families will have to start over, district spokesperson Maria DiPetta said. In addition, about 2,600 KISD employees experienced water damage to their homes or vehicles.
“Katy ISD bus drivers got on buses and rescued over 450 people who were forced to evacuate their homes,” KISD Superintendent Lance Hindt said in a video message Sept. 6. “When we opened three shelters in the district, board members and hundreds of volunteers came forward to offer their help and service to over 4,000 evacuees.”
The district used Cinco Ranch and Morton Ranch High Schools as public shelters the week after Harvey’s landfall, and Katy High School was used as a staging and rest area for the National Guard.
Sixteen schools were in some way affected, two of which—Creech Elementary School and Beck Junior High School—incurred water damage. KISD’s administration building also took on water and temporarily lost data capabilities.
DiPetta said damage estimates were unavailable as of Sept. 12, but the cost was expected to reach the millions.
Students at Creech and Bear Creek elementaries were relocated for classes starting Sept. 11.
Creech Elementary School students resumed classes the University of Houston’s Cinco Ranch campus as the school and its surrounding neighborhood were flooded. It was unknown when students could return to the school.
“With the campus having taken on several feet of flood water, the conditions near and around the school have prevented Katy ISD operations crews from conducting a full assessment of the building,” a KISD announcement said Sept. 6. “Katy ISD anticipates that an extended amount of time will be required to fully evaluate campus building structures, conduct air and mold tests, and make restoration repairs.”
Creech Elementary had 886 students enrolled in the 2016-17 school year, according to the TEA. Bear Creek Elementary School, which had 712 students enrolled in the 2016-17 school year, also relocated to Paetow High School. The high school opened this year with only ninth and tenth grades.
Bear Creek Elementary did not have water damage but the Jackrabbit Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant and lift pumps, which serve Harris County Utility District No. 6, were out of service due to flooding. Thus the utility district implemented a boil water notice Sept. 1 as a result.
Water also entered Beck Junior High School through the building’s roof, skylights and a construction site within the building. Mechanical and electrical systems testing, as well as air quality and mold testing were conducted. The school reopened with the rest of the district, DiPetta said.
In total, the district lost 10 instructional days due to the storm but the TEA granted waivers for as many days to districts included in Gov. Greg Abbott’s disaster declaration. Districts must apply for the waivers but DiPetta said KISD was expected to be approved.
No days were being added to the school calendar and holiday breaks were not affected, she said.