WYLIE (CBSDFW.COM) – An around-the-clock cleanup effort continues Wednesday in Collin County. Employees with the Wylie Independent School District reopened campus doors for students, staff and teachers after cancelling classes on Tuesday due to severe weather the night before.
Some of the worst destruction from the storms and hail was at Akin Elementary School. District officials estimated that about 50 windows were broken there when softball-sized hail rained down Monday evening. In addition to the broken windows, roof damage and HVAC damage, the gargantuan hailstones caused significant additional damage when they melted into the carpet. Industrial fans had to be brought in to dry it out.
Despite the fact that all 19 of the Wylie ISD’s public schools had some degree of damage, buses were running and schools were open on Wednesday morning. The district canceled classes Tuesday, giving workers time to board up the broken windows and clean up the glass.
This latest damage to schools across the district happened just two weeks after multimillion dollar repairs were completed due to an earlier hailstorm. That storm — two weeks ago — knocked out 36 HVAC units, but Superintendent David Vinson stated that this storm was worse.
Vinson traded his suit and tie for a T-shirt and jeans to join the cleanup effort. “We talk about the values we want our kids to have, and we want them to be respectful, responsible, caring… and they deliver,” Vinson said. “But if we show them, it’s just so much better in action.”
“Our schools were pretty damaged,” stated parent Nancy Gonzalez, “but I can see everybody worked together to get everything straightened out in one day. Kids are back to school — a good thing.”
“Every room is clean. Every room’s been sanitized. Every walkway is safe,” said Vinson. “It’s been no small effort.”
Since the kids were not in school on Tuesday, some of them decided to be part of the solution. “They had a big hailstorm and it caused lots of damage,” said 8-year-old Georgia Fleming. “And we heard about some schools that had lots of damage, so we’ve been going around and giving out lunch.”
And, after explaining that he too was almost 8 years old, Walker Liebert said, “We have been going to schools and handing out chips, water and everything.”
School officials said that, although there may be some changes in classrooms, they are ready for students. Administrators also understand that many families are dealing with storm damage at their homes. For those parents who cannot get their children to school on Wednesday, the absence will be excused.
“Things should run normal — a new normal,” added Vinson early Wednesday. “There’s a few drips. There’s a few places where things are happening, but it’s the most normal we know.”
“Just get them back to normal,” said grandparent Jon Edmondson. “Back to school.”