Schools rely on parents, professionals to help clean up after Irma

Schools prepare to re-open after Irma
Posted at 6:44 PM, Sep 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-12 18:47:37-04

It takes hands to clean up the yard and heart when it's not your own.

On Tuesday morning, hands and heart were seen picking up debris and branches Hurricane Irma left behind at Ballast Point Elementary School.

"Parents can rally together and get things cleaned up," said Kim Frederick whose step-son goes to Ballast Point.  

Frederick drove from St. Petersburg after receiving a text from the school's principal inviting parents to help clean up the school's yard.

"They asked for shovels and rakes, we didn't have that but we threw our wagon in the truck and headed across the bridge. Whatever we can do to help, we're happy to help," she said.

Karrie Toranzo is also a Ballast Point parent who answered the principal's call for help.

"Someone said you know, they have people who do that.  I said sure but this is our school.  We're a big family," she said.

In all, about 40 parents and teachers showed up Tuesday morning to help clear the campus even kids got involed.  

"I needed to get out and do something," said 10-year-old Gabriella Toranzo who's a 5th grader at the school.  

When asked what she'll tell her friends about cleaning up she replied, "Thank me because I cleaned up our school," she said.

Across town at Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy, a professional tree removal crew was working to cut down a tree that had fallen on top of the school.

District spokeswoman Tanya Arja said all 250+ schools in the country were being assessed for damage and clean up.

"Water intrusion is the biggest issue because it's inside the classroom," she said.

By Tuesday afternoon it remained unclear how many schools had, if any, water damage.

During the hurricane 42 schools were used as shelters in the county. Those schools will undergo extra cleaning.  

Hillsborough County schools were originally scheduled to reopen Thursday but due to power outages that remain at more than 100 schools, the district was forced to move that date back to Monday, September 18.

RELATED: Hurricane Irma: Closures and Alerts

"We're going to ensure our schools are safe before students come back," she said.

In Pasco County, the school district has custodian and maintenance crews working to help clean up campuses after Irma.  Approximately 24 schools used as shelters will require hazmat clean up.

The Pasco County school district also plans to reopen schools on Monday.