Schools on Kauai Set To Reopen After Battering by Hurricane
Public schools on Kauai, the target of the second brutal hurricane to strike the United States in less than three weeks, were set to begin reopening this week, according to Hawaii education officials.
Some 10,000 children attend Kauai's public schools, which opened for the year on Sept. 8, three days before Hurricane Iniki pummeled the island with winds gusting up to 160 miles per hour.
Herman M. Aizawa, the deputy superintendent of the Hawaii department of education, said all of the 14 public schools were damaged, some severely.
Damage to the entire island is estimated at more than $1 billion.
Mr. Aizawa said that although school damage has not yet been assessed separately, he believes it will run into "many millions of dollars.''
Private school officials headquartered in Honolulu still had not received word last week about the condition of member schools. "Telephone service has been suspended so we haven't been able to talk to anybody,'' said Lester E. Cingcade, president of the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools.
Lack of communications also posed a problem for the Hawaii State Teachers Association, which was trying to learn the fate of its 650 members on the island.
Danielle Lum, a spokeswoman for the union, said initial reports indicate that damage to teachers' homes ranges from the loss of a few shingles to destruction. "Phone systems aren't working and gas is in short supply so we can't have people driving all over the island,'' she said.
The H.S.T.A. has donated $10,000 to start a relief fund for Kauai's teachers.
Public school officials planned to open about six of the least damaged schools on Sept. 21 and the remaining schools by Sept. 25, contingent on the restoration of electricity and the availability of noncontaminated water.
Individual schools may reopen on a grade-by-grade or otherwise staggered basis as various sections of buildings are repaired or cleaned up, Mr. Aizawa said.
One school was being used as a shelter for stranded tourists and residents who lost their homes. About 400 people were being served meals at the school, Mr. Aizawa said.
National Guard and civil-defense crews were helping clean up and repair schools and were readying alternate housing sites for those who took refuge in schools.
About 90 percent of the homes on Kauai were damaged.
"In order to assure that the community can get back on its feet as soon as possible, normal activity must resume,'' said Mr. Aizawa. "One of the normal activities is getting the children back in school.''
Mr. Aizawa said information about school openings is available on radio stations on the island of Oahu and on the single station on Kauai that resumed broadcasting last week.
Hawaii's unified public school system comprises seven administrative districts. According to Mr. Aizawa, each of the other six districts has adopted schools on Kauai to provide supplies, equipment, textbooks, emotional and financial support, and other help the schools might need.
The effort is a demonstration of "ohana,'' a Hawaiian word that roughly translates as extended family.
"It was something the other districts wanted to do,'' said Mr. Aizawa. "In order for people to survive in Hawaii, we have to work together.''
Meanwhile, private schools on the other islands have been gathering food for a military airlift to Kauai and have begun making an inventory of supplies and textbooks for shipment to sister schools once they know their needs, according to Mr. Cingcade.
Contributions to relief efforts may be sent to:
The Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation, 3430 Leahi Ave., Building D, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815.
Hawaii State Teachers Association Disaster Relief Fund, 2828 Paa
St., Suite 2050, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96819.
Vol. 12, Issue 03