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Two Vidor schools being rebuilt more than three years after Tropical Storm Harvey

Vidor ISD is taking a big step forward toward rebuilding, more than three years after Tropical Storm Harvey when the storm destroyed most of Oak Forest Elementary.

VIDOR, Texas — Construction is now underway in Vidor for a project more than three years in the making—rebuilding the schools damaged by Tropical Storm Harvey. 

The storm destroyed most of Oak Forest Elementary. Vidor ISD had to wade through red tape and wait for funds before rebuilding. 

Over the past three years, the district worked toward rebuilding the new elementary school after receiving 90 percent of the funds from FEMA. 

School administrators worked hard to secure a $1 million grand from the Rebuild Texas fund to pay for the rest. Now officials said the schools will be better equipped for future storms like Harvey. 

"We're elevating it a foot above the flood of record," Vidor ISD superintendent Dr. Jay Killgo said. "The flood of record is Harvey, that's the highest the water has ever gotten on Highway 12. It'll be a foot above that, and there's quite a bit of elevation there that will be going into it."

Oak Forest Principal Carolyn Wedgeworth was only a few weeks into her current role when Harvey hit Southeast Texas and destroyed the school in August 2017. 

The resiliency of the teachers and students who have been going to school in portable buildings next to Vidor High School has been remarkable, Wedgeworth said. 

"We've gone so far as to paint our sidewalks bright colors," she said. "We've put footprints down. Teachers have decorated their doors. So we've done everything to help the culture of this school be positive and upbeat."

One of the things the teachers and students miss most about being in a school building is always having cover in wet weather, but she said the kids have been great even on rainy days. 

"Even on rainy days they're happy, they're smiling, they've got their rain boots, their umbrellas, whatever we need," she said. "We just make do."

The school district rented the portable buildings Oak Forest students currently use to attend school because they did not think it would take this long to build a new school, Killgo said. 

The new schools are expected to be finished by January 2022.

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