N.Y. Schools Scramble To Relocate Storm Victims
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Most of New York City's one million public school students went back to class on Monday, a week after Sandy hit. Still dozens of school buildings were flooded, damaged, without power so their students had to relocate. Beth Fertig of member station WNYC visited one of those schools in its new location on Staten Island.
BETH FERTIG, BYLINE: Intermediate School 2 is almost a mile away from the beach. But when the surge of water came during Hurricane Sandy, Principal Adrian Stallone(ph) says it flooded the basement.
ADRIAN STALLONE: Unfortunately for us, the boilers, the electrical system, the fire alarm system, everything is rusted and fried - and they're working, they're cleaning.
FERTIG: But not fast enough to reopen soon. That's why IS2 has relocated to New Dorp High School nearby. Stallone and her fellow administrators have set up a command center in the PTA office.
STALLONE: And grab anybody else that you see. That would be wonderful.
FERTIG: They're coordinating supplies for their teachers and students. Thirteen-year-old Julia Parazo(ph) and 12-year-old Francesca Barisa(ph) are staying with friends and family because their homes were flooded. They look tired but say they're glad to be here.
JULIA PARAZO: I wanted to go to school to see everybody.
FRANCESCA BARISA: Yeah, me, too.
FERTIG: There was a little confusion on the first day, as middle school teachers and kids adjusted to their new classrooms.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Hi, how are you?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: I'm just fine. They don't know where they stuck them in here.
FERTIG: But it worked. Stallone said 80 percent of her 1,000 students made it to school. The principal of New Dorp, Dierdre DeAngelis, made room for the other school by moving some of her own classes into offices and even a cafeteria.
DIERDRE DEANGELIS: We spend three straight days planning on the cohabitation and we have, pretty much, every detail worked out, from entrance in the morning to dismissal in the afternoon, the cafeteria, the halls, the classroom space.
FERTIG: New Dorp High School has become a community resource since the storm. It organized massive donations of food, clothes and toiletries which were delivered to residents by teachers and students. Sixteen-year-old Acella Abazi(ph) says it felt good to help others and she doesn't mind sharing her high school.
ACELLA ABAZI: 'Cause, you know, school has to go on. It can't just be put on hold because of a storm. We all have to work together, come together and help one another.
FERTIG: The city is hoping that spirit will last. It could be weeks before dozens of schools return to their buildings and some of them have been relocated across the city, causing a whole new set of headaches for families and teachers already feeling displaced. For NPR News, I'm Beth Fertig in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.