NC middle school reopens almost 6 months after Hurricane Florence

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BAYBORO, N.C. (WNCT) – It has been nearly six months since Hurricane Florence, and some students in the eastern North Carolina are just now returning to their original school.

Pamlico County Middle School students went back for the first time Monday.

Over the past several months, they were placed at other schools across the district.

CBS 17 sister station WNCT spoke with students and teachers about what it means to them and what they hope to see moving forward.

“It is a great day to be a Hurricane,” sixth-grader Deyshawn Jackson said.

The PCMS Hurricanes celebrated being back in their school building following Hurricane Florence’s devastation.

“We like to have our own space and have fun,” Jackson said. “It just felt weird the past few months.”

The past few months, students were moved to schools throughout the county.

“It feels better now, and we don’t have to worry about the other kids,” he said.

While students are happy to be back at their home school, there is still work to be done.

The gym is under construction, with library books in boxes.

The sixth-grade hallway is still shut down.

“It’s just sad to see it all laying here,” sixth-grade teacher Ashley Leary said. “This will be our fourth first day of school this year. That is really hard, and to think we did it back in 2011 when Hurricane Irene came through. Here we are doing it again, and it is just hard.”

Leary’s students are having class in the eighth-grade hall while their classroom is getting fixed.

She said a new school is needed outside of the flood zone.

“It’s not a matter of if it floods again, it is a matter of when it floods again,” Leary said. “We definitely need a place that we won’t have to up and leave every four to five years.”

While a new school would be ideal, for now, students and staff are just happy to be back home at Pamlico County Middle School.

“We missed everybody, and it just nice to be back under one roof,” Leary said.

“This puts a smile on all of our faces, and that is what I like,” Jackson added.

The school said they hope to have all renovations complete and classrooms open by the summer.

To rebuild the middle school, it would cost around $30 million.

Repairs for the school following Florence cost $2.4 million.

Gov. Roy Cooper is pushing for a school construction bond that would help local school districts pay for rebuilding, renovations, and repairs.

In the budget, he is calling for $2 billion to fund those costs.

He visited Pamlico County Primary School, a school displaced students attended, in January to talk about the school construction bond.

As it stands now, it is up to counties to cover the costs.

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