Schools in eastern NC damaged, closed Monday

Posted August 28, 2011 4:04 p.m. EDT
Updated August 29, 2011 7:47 a.m. EDT

— Public school students in four eastern North Carolina counties and at two universities got an unplanned vacation day Monday while the region continues to assess the damage and debris left behind by Hurricane Irene.

Closings & Delays

Nash-Rocky Mount and Edgecombe, Halifax and Wayne county schools were closed Monday. East Carolina University in Greenville and North Carolina Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount also canceled classes.

The storm did extensive damage to the roof at Tarboro High School and left four classrooms unusable, according to Ann Kent, chairwoman of the Edgecombe County Board of Education.

Kent said all students, teachers, staff and administrators for all Tarboro public schools should stay home Monday.

Principal Lisa Cooke said water leaked through the high school ceiling in several places.

"This morning, you could have swam through the hallways," she said. 

"It's heartbreaking," she said. "You come in here, and these poor teachers have worked so hard and the rooms are so beautiful, and then you come in and you see this."

Textbooks in the math wing were saturated and ruined.

"We're going to start cleaning up all of the damage and ordering textbooks that we need to replace and looking at technology and finding out what we need to do to go from here," Cooke said. 

Cooke said other schools in the system had damage, too.  Neither she nor Kent would offer a total damage estimate or a timeline for when school would be back in session.

The roof was also blown off the bus garage, but no buses were damaged.

East Carolina University canceled classes for Monday due to flooding and power outages in the Greenville neighborhoods around the campus. Mary Chauncey Schulken, director of public affairs at the university, said, "If it were just an ECU issue, we certainly could stay open. We are closing primarily because of the condition of the community and region." 

She countered reports that dormitories were damaged, saying only two windows in hallways were broken by falling tree limbs. 

Some students had leave their rooms in Greene Residence Hall when a storm drain pipe broke and caused some flooding there. "It should not take long to get everyone back in their own rooms," Schulken said Sunday afternoon.

There was other, minor damage on campus, which Schulken described as manageable. 

"We have faculty and staff affected and a lot of students coming from areas that were hit very hard," she said. "We want to take our time to make sure everything is safe, rather than rushing to open."