A school ripped apart, a community in need, and how you can help

By Mackenzie Patterson - bioemail

MANCHESTER, GA (WTVM) - Books packed away, destroyed classrooms, playgrounds twisted like tin cans, and clean-up workers instead of students: these are things you expect to see at an elementary school.  But, in last week's storm, parts of the roof at Mountain View Elementary School in Meriwether County were torn off leaving the inside of the school at the mercy of a tornado.

Deana Brown, the interim principal at the school, told News Leader Nine even though the damage is significant, she is thankful.

"The first thing that went through our heads when we were walking through that next morning was that had it been at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, it would have been much worse.  So, we can rebuild the building, that's not a problem, but we have the students and faculty safe," said Brown.

Brown said the school's recovery is underway.  Already a temporary roof is on the school and carpets have been stripped away trying to dry out the building. Brown said they have the hope of being up and running again in August for the next school year.

However, for now, the state of Georgia has granted a waiver for the school allowing the Meriwether County School System to make the call to end school 13 days early.  Brown said students finished taking the CRCT the morning before the storms struck.  Now, the tests are en route to Atlanta to be graded.  Brown explained the faculty of Mountain View will make personal calls to parents to tell them their child's score.  Also, Brown said students will be able to pick up their report cards on May 24th at Manchester Middle School.

While the school is on track, Jason Ritter with the Meriwether County Sheriff Department told News Leader Nine much of the community is still in need.  Ritter helped coordinate the Disaster Recovery Center in Manchester where FEMA and GEMA along with the Red Cross and multiple other organizations are set up to help the tornado victims.

"We're in need of several volunteers for anything from food preparation, food delivery, child-care.  We're in need of people to come out and help with debris removal.  We have a large amount of debris all over the county that we're trying to help these citizens get cleaned up," said Ritter.

Ritter said the center will be open for the next seven days so anyone who needs help can find it.

Meriwether County is also asking for donations of things like canned food, bottled water, personal hygiene products, and new clothing especially underwear and socks.  Ritter said to drop off donations at the Warm Springs Fire Department at 3636 Whitehouse Parkway open from 9:00am to 9:00 pm daily.

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