The Aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Newark Public Schools

Newark, NJ – September 10, 2021:  The district suffered catastrophic damage during Hurricane Ida that required major cleanup and restoration action to be taken. 

As a result, a district-wide emergency was declared to the state of New Jersey.  Here is some of the damage we suffered:

  • A fire
  • A fallen tree at the entry of a school
  • 33 flooded buildings (including 11 boilers)
  • 14 basements
  • 21 other areas such as gymnasiums, libraries, wings of schools, and classrooms)
  • one of our two data information system servers rendered inoperable
  • In three schools, the gymnasium floors buckled because of water infiltration and will need to be replaced.

Our cost estimate thus far is $5 Million, which does not include replacement of instructional supplies, equipment, and building systems, remediation, structural repairs, and the installation of the three new gymnasium floors. 

To immediately combat these issues, equipment for the removal of water was rented or purchased, and an aggressive strategy to prevent the growth of mold and mildew was implemented with purchased technical services.  We implemented contingency plans as a temporary strategy to address academic programming needs throughout our schools as a result of the impact of the storm.  While the majority of the facilities were ready to receive children prior to the storm, every school required additional attention after the storm in preparation for Tuesday’s successful first day of school. 

“We applaud the entire facilities department, all of the trades staff, every custodial team across the 65 schools, executive staff, principals, school administrators, teachers, and staff for their valiant efforts,” said Superintendent León.  In many instances, they were at work from the start of the storm to the early dawn of the next day, and over this past weekend.  “They put the district’s needs above their own and those of their families and even their own homes,” said Board President Dawn Haynes.  They did not want to let anyone down, especially the children, and they did not.  While always putting the health and safety of children and staff first, they saw the return to in-person instruction as the only viable alternative over everything.   

Just like other school districts, we should not have been able to open, but we did.  We opened on day one because of our incredible staff.  We are also grateful for the support we received from the Mayor Baraka and the city of Newark, Senator Ruiz, county and local officials, as well as, the invaluable assistance provided by Manny DaSilva of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.