'A long and challenging process': Schools in Terrebonne and Lafourche to remain closed until further notice

Dan Copp
The Courier

Public and Catholic schools in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes will remain closed for the foreseeable future after sustaining major damage from Hurricane Ida, officials said Thursday. 

Philip Martin, Terrebonne Parish public schools superintendent, said it will be a long road to recovery as crews assess the damage from the Category 4 storm that ripped through the area Sunday. 

“We have received significant damage at several locations and have already begun the rebuilding process,” Martin said. “No one knows the timetables, but rebuild we will. There’s no question about that. It’s going to be a long and challenging process, but at the end of the day we will have a school system again.” 

More:Recovery begins as Houma grapples with outages, shortages after Hurricane Ida

Lafourche public schools Superintendent Jarod Martin said several schools sustained severe structural damage. 

Pointe-aux-Chenes Elementary School sits damaged Monday, a day after Hurricane Ida decimated the area.

“We begin yet another challenging time as we face a long and extensive road to recovery,” he said. “We are in the process of assessing damages to our facilities and beginning temporary repairs."

Power remained out across both parishes, and officials say it will take weeks to restore electricity to most of the area. Many parts of the two parishes either lacked running water or were under orders to boil it before drinking in case broken lines contaminated it.

The superintendents said the lack of such basic services will slow efforts to rebuild.

"We have not yet established a timeline to return to schoo," Jarod Martin said. "Our schools and offices will remain closed until further notice. Many of our students and staff are displaced due to storm-related damage.” 

More:'The Gulf is warm. It's getting warmer,' Experts push for electric grid investment in Ida's wake

Neither school system will conduct online learning during the rebuilding phase, officials said. 

“LPSD will not conduct virtual lessons during this phase of response, as this is a time for our community to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Ida,” Jarod Martin said. “We will provide updates to you following the completion of assessments of facilities regarding the reopening of schools through our social media platforms and the LPSD website.”

About 17,000 students attend public schools in Terrebonne and 14,000 in Lafourche. Each parish has about three dozen schools. 

The area’s 5,000 Catholic school students will also remain out of class until further notice, the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux said. 

“Our prayers are with all of you as we begin the recovery process in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida,” the diocese said. “We ask, for the safety of all, that you heed the directives of local civil authorities in terms of re-entry into your communities and parishes.” 

More:Students displaced by Hurricane Ida can enroll in Lafayette Parish schools

— Staff Writer Dan Copp can be reached at 448-7639 or at dan.copp@houmatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanVCopp.