It has been interesting talking to different folks this week about past floods in Seneca. One person said it was the worst flood since the sixties.
Considering this fact, I am thankful that all people were safe and the school escaped with no major damage.
One thing I have always found interesting about post-disaster work is that everyone pitches in, there are no titles or job duties, and everyone is focused on the same goal.
In many ways this defines the culture we are building within the Seneca school district. Sunday morning was no exception. Administrators, school board members, custodians, teachers, parents, patrons, students and others showed up to get the water out of the buildings, work at the ball fields and prepare the schools for Monday classes.
After getting the buildings ready and checking the roads, we felt good about welcoming students on Monday. However, the magnitude of the flooding was putting stress on the sewer/water system in town. We also knew that many students were probably helping family members clean up and repair damage.
Because of these reasons, we decided to cancel school on Monday.
After getting clearance from the City, we opened school on Tuesday. As of Tuesday, the following is what we are dealing with from an insurance perspective.
The school has flood insurance. We will likely have three, $1,000 deductibles; property, contents and vehicles. We switched to MUSIC (Missouri United School Insurance Council) a few years ago as our insurance carrier. They cover over 470 public school districts and community colleges in the state. To put into perspective the quality of coverage, Carl Junction was out $1,500 after the devastating tornado in 2003.
After the initial work to get the school back open, we are now assigned a company to come in and help with cleaning and restoration. We are also separating out damaged items to be evaluated. Our biggest damage is going to be to items in the maintenance barn, the central office garage, and vehicles. We will also have several items damaged in the elementary, high school art and shop, and junior high.
Finally, a major issue created by the flood was the baseball and softball fields. From accounts I have gathered, this is the sixth time in eleven years that extensive repairs have been made to the field; mostly due to flooding.
There are many that believe it is time to move the fields. The school board has recently approved some site planning and design work to develop a plan for housing a complex at the school farm. This possibility has been considered before. I am looking forward to some collaboration in the near future to see if we can’t get this idea resurrected.
It seems there has to be a better solution than continuing the cycle of repair and destroy at the present location. If you would like to be part of these discussions, please reach out to me.
It is great to be back in school. As for the missed day, we have made a formal request to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for relief from making up the day.
If it is granted, May 19 will still be the last day. If it is not granted, May 22 will be our last day.
Best wishes on the continuing restoration of our town and homes!
By Dr. Jim Cummins
(Dr. Jim Cummins is superintendent of the Seneca R-7 School District. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)