Last week’s tornadoes, specifically the one that rumbled through Avalon, served as a reminder of how precious and dear our children, school and community is to all of us. While we feared and marveled at nature’s fury, we counted our blessings that no one individual was harmed.
Our community was quick to respond that very evening to the needs of the families affected. The Avalon Volunteer Fire Department and Emergency Response Team, along with the Avalon ISD administrators, teachers, staff and maintenance crew, the Red Cross and utility companies, were all crucial to the effective response that night.
The district school buildings themselves received minor damage but the lack of power that night and the amount of broken trees and large limbs that were around the elementary building warranted the need for school to be cancelled the following day for safety reasons. The faculty and staff came together that next morning with rakes, chainsaws, gloves and work boots to clear out the old tall tree by the Pre-K building, collect shingles and nails around parking lots and the entire campus, and move or pick-up other objects from the surrounding neighborhood that had landed in our vicinity.
Of course, our school did become the center of media that night as word spread of the tornado. Media trucks (channels 4, 5, 8, 11, 23, 33, WBAP, Univision, and Fox World News) either spent the night or were on campus early the next morning for interviews and footage. They represented our district and community most fairly and accurately when they spoke of a community coming together and one that cares for each other. Proudly, our multipurpose center, which parents and taxpayers deemed important for our school activities and as a storm shelter, was highlighted for the protection it provided for 75-100 people that day.
The district sustained some minor water and high wind damage to shingles and trees. However, Griffith Gym suffered quite a bit more damage. Last week we had structural engineers assess the damage and to check and verify the integrity of the building. We have been assured that the building is structurally sound but the damage is extensive. Avalon ISD property insurance is through the Texas Association of School Boards and they are working on finalizing the final cost of the damages moving forward. We should be receiving a finalized list of costs soon so an informed decision can be made regarding the future of the structure.
In my 17 years here at Avalon ISD, I cannot recall such a time as the week we just experienced. I look back and think of what other damage could have been done to our school and community and am deeply thankful for what did not occur. But there are moments which did happen that will stay with me, and all of us at Avalon ISD, far longer as we go forward. Those included Superintendents from surrounding school districts who came out that night to see what they could do for us, calls, emails, and text messages from other district superintendents and their employees, as well as our regional service center in Richardson, the following day to check and see what we needed. Crews from Ferris and Italy ISD came with trailers and chainsaws; Milford ISD brought all of us breakfast and water. Parents and students came by or called or texted to see what they could do to help their school.
There is no price an adjuster can put on those acts of friendship and goodwill. Those acts are priceless!
David Del Bosque, EdD