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Orangefield ISD continues cleanup after Hurricane Harvey

In Orangefield, administrators started calling district employees Wednesday to get an update on their homes and see when they'll be able to return to work.

Many students and school districts in Southeast Texas are preparing for the opening of school next Monday, despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Other districts that were harder hit still have a ways to go before the clean up is complete.

In Orangefield, administrators started calling district employees Wednesday to get an update on their homes and see when they'll be able to return to work.

Orangefield Superintendent Stephen Patterson said 60 percent of the campus buildings in the district had water.

"The best thing we can do for our community right now is get our doors open. We're actively doing that. We need a safe place for our kids to come. We need some return to normalcy in our lives and our youngest students need that the very most," said Patterson.

District officials are working to make sure the schools are safe for students when they return to class.

"We have contractors in the buildings now. We're going to operate in a shell of a building for a while. We'll have concrete floors and some walls that are flood cut," said Patterson. "As soon as the building is safe we're going to be back operational for the community."

Patterson said help has been coming from across the country.

"There was some school supply loss. There was some significant textbook loss that we're working with the state on replenishing. They've reached out to us from places that I've certainly never heard of but I will always appreciate," said Patterson.

He said it's too soon to know the total cost of the flood damage, but the superintendent said the district was prepared.

"We had a substantial flood policy that is going to cover the bulk of our work. We've been in contact with FEMA for anything that flood insurance doesn't cover. We know that we will be made whole," said Patterson.

He also knows when school returns to session shortly it will be one giant step in helping the community heal.

"Right now we're working to get our athletic teams back together, so that those kids can return. Because I think Friday night lights will make our people feel a whole lot better," said Patterson.

Patterson said Orangefield hopes to return to class in the next 10 days to two weeks.

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