Rebuilding in Moore
Moments after the massive tornado ripped through Moore, the focus turned to the destroyed Plaza Towers Elementary School.
People have continued to pick up the pieces, but that school has raised a lot of questions about safety and what happens next.
Standing by the makeshift memorial set up for the seven children killed in Plaza Towers Elementary you can see T-shirts and stuffed animals, mementos from all over the world.
In the distance you can see what’s left of plaza towers elementary: Not much.
Most of the area has been torn down awaiting a brand new school.
“We’re prepared to do what we need to and the two buildings that we’re looking at and rebuilding will be bigger and better and stronger than before.”
Moore Schools Assistant Superintendent Robert Romines takes the reins as superintendent on July First, a job he accepted before the storms destroyed Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary Schools on May 20th.
Romines says the tornadoes strengthen his resolve to lead the recovery efforts in the district.
“I’ve been reared in this community, and I’ve been here all my life, and I’m still steadfast on that and we’re going to get through this. You know I’ve always said it takes a village to raise a child and Moore Public Schools just happens to be our child at this point.”
Officials are working out the details of what to do with the nearly 500 students at Plaza Towers and more than 600 at Briarwood when school starts again in August.
But, current Superintendent Susan Pierce says they plan to have new schools built in just one year.
“I believe it will be August of 2014 hopefully a little earlier in the summer so we can get things done, but we’re targeting the beginning of school August 1, 2014.”
While the process to rebuild could take just a year, the return to normalcy could take longer.
In 2007, the world turned upside down for the people of Greensburg, Kansas when a tornado destroyed nearly everything in town.
“I would say that this sixth year is the first time we’ve really had kind of our old jobs back.”
Superintendent Darin Headrick took over the district just four years earlier and says it was devastating.
“As a school district we lost every building and every bus and every ball and every book. We had 100% loss in the school facility so we had a lot of recovery to do on both ends from a professional level and also a private level.”
But, he adds recovery was less about stuff and more about people.
“The lord blessed us in being able to have most of our friends around and most of our colleagues around and so it was a blessing to spend time with them. Whether you’re in a temporary building or a brand new building the important part was kids and colleagues and those interactions, and I think when you can reestablish that as quickly as possible recovery takes place pretty quick.”
Headrick is talking with Moore officials on how to build better, greener facilities.
New Moore Superintendent Romines says while the district rebuilds he believes the love will continue to pour in just like the mementos at the Plaza Towers makeshift memorial.
“It’s just been amazing the support that we’ve got from our local community, statewide and across the nation. It’s been overwhelming all of the support that we’ve received at this point. So, we’re good to go. We’re going to rebuild and things are going to be great.”
Romines says he’s already working with insurance companies, architects and the Federal Emergency Management Agency on plans to rebuild the schools discussing ongoing issues such as storm shelters.
A special meeting of the Moore Public School Board which should include some of those plans is scheduled for June 25th with a press conference scheduled for the 27th.
Officials estimate it will to cost about $20 million to replace both Plaza Towers and Briarwood.