The importance of a school in a community and the vitality it offers to the community’s recovery efforts cannot be overestimated. Research has taught us that second only to family, school is the most important stabilizing force in the lives of young people and a community.
School systems are a socializing agent that affects all of the community's residents, regardless if they have children in the school system or not. A community's school educates its children, provides employment, is a demonstration of its morality and values, guides the next generation of residents, and can often be an indicator of a community's resilience and strength.
After a natural disaster such as a tornado, hurricane, flood, or earthquake, there are many decisions communities may need to consider based on the extent of damage and needs of the community. Of course, FEMA’s Public Assistance Program will pay to repair or rebuild a school damaged by a disaster to its pre-existing condition and capacity. However, when the damage is extensive, there will be pressure to get schools opened as quickly as possible. FEMA’s Public Assistance Program will also pay for temporary facilities and to temporary relocate schools.
In past disasters, partially damaged schools have used modular trailers to add additional classrooms as the repairs commence. Completely destroyed schools have temporarily relocated to vacant department stores while the school is rebuilt.
On May 22, 2011, an EF5 tornado struck the town of Joplin, Missouri, causing extensive damage, including the destruction of Joplin High School.
The temporary use of facilities is a great way for communities to get children back in school while also giving community leaders time to evaluate their current and future educational needs. FEMA’s Alternative and Improved Project options, as well as the Section 428 Alternative Procedures, gives communities opportunities to rebuild for the future.
We look forward to continuing our Community Disaster Recovery Success Series!