Hurricane Laura Brushes HPS

By Ken McLemore, Hope Public Schools, 08/31/20 5:09 PM

HOPE – Students across the Hope Public Schools returned to classes Friday, and felt little effect online Thursday, as Hurricane Laura dealt a glancing blow to Hope.

Hope Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart announced school closures districtwide on Aug. 26 in anticipation of what was forecast to be at least a tropical storm across Hempstead County by the following morning.

“We were fortunate that Laura swept to our east,” Dr. Hart said Friday. “Our district, with the exception of a couple of trees behind Hammons Stadium, had no damage.”

He said the Hope district was fortunate.

“Our thoughts are with those districts and communities that suffered far worse,” Hart said. “We will begin conversations next week as to the best options for making up the day from Aug. 27.”

HPS Facilities and Transportation Director Maurice Henry was succinct.

“I believe we were blessed,” Henry quipped.

School buses were able to transport students Friday morning with little disruption beyond the COVID-19 screening required as classes for the 2020-2021 academic year began Aug. 24 amid the “new normal” of a worldwide health crisis.

Henry said no major roof problems were reported, although minor ceiling leaks were reported at Yerger Middle School and Hope Academy of Public Service.

“I’m almost scared to say that it is going so smoothly this morning,” YMS Principal Mike Radebaugh said.

Radebaugh said two ceiling leaks were discovered in hallways and one in the school cafeteria, but none posed problems for classes.

At HAPS, Principal Dr. Carol Ann Duke said a few students appeared to have stayed home Friday, but other than one ceiling leak in the cafeteria, the school day was normal.

“Everything is going really well,” Dr. Duke said.

The tree damage on high school property behind Hammons Stadium between 16th and 18th streets was limited to two pine trees, one apparently snapped during wind gusts and the other which was uprooted from saturated soil. No collateral damage resulted in either case.

“I didn’t see anything you could attribute to the weather, except some breaker issues in the MAC Conference Room during the power outage,” Hope High School Principal Bill Hoglund said.

While brief power fluctuations Thursday were felt in Hope, HPS Technology Director Jeff Madlock said they did not adversely affect computer servers.

“It barely flickered on us,” Madlock said. “A lot of kids logged in yesterday and did work from home.”

Neither Clinton Primary School Principal Ashlea Stewart nor Beryl Henry Elementary School Principal Dr. Roy Turner expressed concerns Friday.

“We had some trash and overturned items,” Stewart said. “I took care of that this morning.”

She said a few students apparently decided to return to campus Friday rather than continue in online instruction.

At BHE, Dr. Turner said most of his students who elected to attend class on campus were present Friday.

“We had, I think, four who didn’t come to school,” he said. “But, the ones who are here are glad to be back in school.”

Hart said the district is appreciative of the cooperation it received in preparing for and weathering the storm.

“We want to thank all our area law enforcement, state, county and city, for providing us with data; and, to our county judge and his crew for making sure all roads were open for busses this morning.”