KATHLEEN, Fla. - It's been one year since a tornado tore through Kathleen Middle School in Polk County. Earlier this week, principal Sheila Gregory and teachers talked about the transition back into classrooms and how repairs are going. She also reflected on what it was like when they first surveyed the damage one year ago.
"We were watching literally ceilings falling in front of us, and the water just kept coming, and coming, and coming. And you have the big gaping holes upstairs."
More than $8 million was recovered from insurance to make the necessary repairs. So far more than $5 million has been spent on fixing classrooms, the gymnasium, and the roof of the main building.
However, construction workers expect to spend more. Donations and supplies have been collected over the past year by the community to help cover costs.
"People came in and donated a bunch of stuff. Simple stuff, like markers and crayons and pencils. At the end of the day, I had more of that stuff than I did before," said teacher Amanda Fleming.
More than $2,000 has been raised to fund a historical marker to represent the school’s history since it opened its doors in1928.
This initiative is sponsored by the Kathleen Area Historical Society and asks those who like to contribute to contact the society via Facebook @kahsatsocrum or firstname.lastname@example.org.
With support from the community and hopes of returning the historic building to normal, students and staff are confident in the future of Kathleen Middle.
The entire project is predicted to finish by December 2021.
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