November 14th at ten minutes after ten in the morning, Milford ISD was told to evacuate their school after a Chevron liquified petroleum gas pipeline exploded just south of Milford off of FM 308 and Highway 77.
Marilee Byrne (principal), Don Clingenpeel (superintendent) and staff wasted no time whatsoever. They had students and staff members loaded on the bus and headed to Italy ISD in twenty-two minutes according to fire department officials!
Marilee Byrne said, “There were 275 people we had to get out of the building. The evacuation was executed very smoothly and quickly. Italy ISD sent over five buses but we only needed to use one of them. Students, substitute teachers and staff executed emergency procedures quickly, accurately and safely. Ninety-five percent of the students were reunited with their families by 11:30 AM.”
She went on to say, “We were able to notify parents by using a broadcast system which is an app (SchoolReach) on my phone. We also used the same broadcast system for the general evacuation of the City of Milford. When we got to Italy ISD everyone was so helpful and willing to do whatever it took to get everyone situated in the dome. Mr. Basset and Mr Joffre met us at the door and were there to provide any help we needed. The use of Italy School’s, facilities, equipment and man-power were very beneficial in achieving a quick and efficient reuniting of our students with their parents. We are very appreciative of all their help.”
According to Khristy Strange Chevron officials were most gracious and kind and very apologetic. Mrs. Byrne said, “Chevron officials paid for buses, boxed lunches and entry fees for any Milford residents that wanted to go to Milford ISD’s first play off game (Cranfills Gap) in Clifton, an hour away. They paid for their entry fees for both schools.”
Don Clingenpeel was very proud of the students. He said, “The kids did an outstanding job following instructions. There was no arguing, everyone walked out of the school single file, no one ran or paniciked which went a long way in helping the evacuation of the school go quickly and smoothly.”
He went on to say, “I was really impressed by all the help we got from Italy ISD. Mr. Joffre and Mr. Basset were very supportive, as was Paul and Ronda Cockerham. The fire departments made everything work. I think it made our communities closer because of this event. The amount of support we received was overwhelming. So many schools reached out to us, Palmer ISD, Bynum ISD, Ferris ISD, Avalon ISD and Italy ISD just to name a few. Milford administration (Marilee Byrne and Khristy Strange) and DeeDee Hamilton the school nurse at Italy ISD were more than helpful. The Red Cross and the first responders were very beneficial in helping everyone cope with the situation and make it easier to deal with.”