Greenville schools cleaning up after tornado


By Ryan Berry

GREENVILLE — Greenville City Schools had a lot of damage at their locations across the city. Superintendent Doug Fries explained they believe it was all exterior damage.

Greenville high school and the k-8 buildings seemed to be in the direct path of the tornado that swept through the city on Tuesday evening.

Fries said the middle school baseball field dugout was blown over. There were also four or five umbrellas on tables that were blown across the property.

At the high school, trees have fallen around the entrance to the parking lot and around the tennis court. A couple trees have also been blown down at St. Clair Memorial Hall and at the k-8 building.

“There’s a lot of debris everywhere,” said Fries. Some of that debris included the high jump mat that was blown over a fence at the Jennings Center track.

“We believe the interiors of our buildings are okay. We want to get power back up so we can double check all of our servers so we can ensure everything comes up right. We believe the insides are going to be fine,” said Fries.

The biggest problem the school faced was getting electricity restored at the schools and they wanted to make sure the roads were re-opened to where the buses could maneuver the roads before they returned to school. The district cancelled classes on Wednesday.

This is not the first time the district has had to make decisions based on the buses and being able to maneuver the roads. The previous tornado and flooding in the past have also played a role in their decisions. Fries praised the school community for their willingness to be flexible. “I truly thank our community people because our parents work with us in being understanding if we can’t get to certain places and maybe walking to different location to be picked up or bringing their kids.”

There were a lot of pictures on social media regarding Harmon Field and the press box being destroyed. Although football doesn’t begin for another three months, the district is working diligently to see if it will be ready for graduation on June 1.

The stadium had two light poles blown over in addition to the press box being destroyed. The biggest concern is if there is damage to the bleachers.

“Short term, what we’re doing is working hard with the liability insurance to get them out here to take a look at things so we can begin the clean-up process,” said Fries. “After that we’ll work with the county building inspectors to see if the stadium is okay to use after we clean up the debris.”

Fries said there are five or six places where the turf has been gouged and they are getting the turf company to come out and take a look.

The superintendent said the school does have a back-up plan in place if the stadium is not ready by graduation. It will be the same plan used when graduation has to be held inside due to weather.

The next step will be to determine if they are going to make repairs to the current stadium or begin Phase 3 of the stadium renovation project that includes new bleachers, press box and new lighting. “We’ll have to decide if we are going to make some repairs and do some short-term fixes and make some bigger decisions later,” he said. “This is going to make us make some consideration.” Since this just occurred on Tuesday, there is presently no timetable for that decision.

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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