Education A National Roundup

Hurricane Wilma Forces South Fla. Schools to Close

November 01, 2005 1 min read

Hundreds of schools across South Florida were closed last week after Hurricane Wilma struck the region on Oct. 24, causing wind damage and power outages.

The Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach county school systems together serve more than 800,000 students, most of whom were expected to go back to class this week.

The 14-story headquarters of the Broward County district, the K.C. Wright Administration Building in downtown Fort Lauderdale, lost windows on its west side. But officials said they were optimistic most of its 850 workers could return after the windows were covered with plywood.

The 272,000-student district, the county’s largest employer, with more than 39,000 workers, had not announced late last week when schools would reopen.

Nearly all of the 171 public schools in the 180,000-student Palm Beach County district, north of Fort Lauderdale, sustained damage. Some schools had minor damage such as broken windows, while five schools had fallen-in roofs, The Palm Beach Post reported. Officials were trying to reopen some schools by Oct. 31.

About 181 of the 327 schools in the 366,000-student Miami-Dade County district, to the south, saw minor damage. All schools and district offices were closed until Oct. 31, due to a lack of electricity and limited access to fuel.

Other districts saw less damage but were not able to reopen because of power outages, which stretched from Key West to Daytona Beach, at least an eight-hour drive north. Some South Florida districts closed Oct. 21, as many people prepared to flee the region.

Schools in the central parts of the state, in and around Tampa and Orlando, mostly were closed only on Oct. 24, according to the Florida Department of Education.

A version of this article appeared in the November 02, 2005 edition of Education Week