VIDOR — Ryan McKusker has a fifth grade son, Lee O'Neal McKusker, at Oak Forest Elementary School in Vidor. He, along with other parents, voiced concerns over social media Tuesday after photos and videos surfaced of students being soaked under an awning and along Orange Street in heavy rains.
McKusker said his son has had problems ever since the students were relocated to portable buildings after Harvey last year. At the time, they were told they would be a temporary fix for the students.
"Here we are again, starting the school year in temporary buildings, how much progress has been made at Oak Forest Elementary? I can't speak for that," said McKusker.
He said for now, the portable buildings appear to be there to stay. Before school started, they were told the buildings were ready for the students, but McKusker said they don't appear to be up to par.
"If they're going to be a permanent structure and we're going to be putting kids in here everyday I think more needs to be done to secure them and make sure they're safe," said McKusker.
McKusker went on to explain that so far, they've been patient with the issues, but the photos and videos he saw on social media were proof something had to be done.
"Kids are screaming and hollering," said McKusker, "there's a slip waiting to happen, an injury's going to take place if they don't fix it."
11th grader Jennifer Jannise said it's not just the elementary students being affected.
"It's sometimes hard to walk around campus because some of the sidewalks are flooded. Today wasn't bad since it only sprinkled all day, but yesterday was insane with people having to take their own shoes off just to get to class," said Jannise.
She shared a video of her fellow classmates wading through ankle-high water across Orange Street. Herman Lee also posted a photo taken by his daughter, 11-year-old Lillie Lee, of her fellow classmates trying to walk through the water. The post got over 53 comments and over 100 reactions.
The following is a statement released by Vidor Independent School District Superintendent Jay Killgo:
"Yesterday, our community was hit with a heavy rain storm. Due to the amount of rain in a short period of time, Orange Street experienced very high water and was difficult to travel. Our campuses were impacted by students having to walk through water in areas and by water blowing in under awnings. No classrooms were damaged.
One image that was distributed via social media depicted heavy rain running down a wall at our portable campus of Oak Forest Elementary School. This is one of the temporary campuses that we are using after the flooding we experienced from Hurricane Harvey. We remain in temporary classrooms while awaiting notification from of the funding we will receive from FEMA. In this one location, we had clogged gutters that caused the excessive water down the wall. The VISD maintenance department was notified and have addressed the matter.
We will continue to provide the safest environment possible for our students while we remain in the temporary portable buildings. Our focus is on our students’ learning and safety. It is our hope that we can quickly resolve any future issues that arise. It our hope that we will soon receive a response from FEMA and can begin the process of getting our students in a stable learning environment."