Storm Damages School Over Winter Break

It's back to school today for most of the kids across the Low Country and Coastal Empire. But there's a nasty holiday headache in Hardeeville. Mother Nature took her toll on West Hardeeville School, with wind and rain damage during the winter break.

School officials aren't quite sure when it happened, but at some point in the last couple weeks, the roof on one of the buildings was torn up, letting a lot of rain in the building, which ended up collapsing ceilings and ruining a lot of equipment.

Surveying the building Monday, school district officials say it's frustrating how little made it without damage. Their best guess is that it was caused by a storm that came through on Christmas Day.

"There had to be some kind of airway or passage where the air got under the roof, and depending on how high the winds were, it just played havoc with that roof," said school district representative Warren Norris.

Once that happened, the building sat there for days, letting the water seep into everything. Along with the computer, stereo and various other electronic equipment, it was a music room that got the most damage. They lost at least six keyboards.

"Every piece of keyboard you see in here is gone," said Norris. "Everything in this room, electronically, is gone." He added that the guidance office was "pretty much the same."

With so much damage, there's no way kids can use the space for class yet, especially because there could be a health issue with all the mildew. "The insulation is moist, and as long as that remains in the room you'll have that odor," said Norris. "But we'll get that out and clean it and disinfect it, and it'll certainly have to pass my inspection before we let kids back in here."

Norris says he hopes to have the building at least fixed up enough to use by late this week or early next week.

Since they didn't even find out about the storm damage until yesterday, school officials say they can't even hazard a guess at how much it will cost to fix or replace everything.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite,