BISMARCK, N.D. -- Minot students got a firsthand lesson in teamwork, so often stressed in schools, when several groups collaborated to get them back in the classroom this fall. Thanks to a combined push from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Minot Public School District, contractor Kraus-Anderson and Innovative Modular Solutions, eight public and private schools impacted by the spring and summer flooding were able to start the school year with only minor delays.
More than 1,200 students suddenly found themselves without schools when the floods struck earlier this year. An estimated one-fourth of the district’s staff and students were forced to evacuate in the wake of the disaster. But the timing of the deluge – during the early part of summer vacation – gave authorities plenty of time to respond before class was scheduled to start again this fall. Some schools are using modular classrooms to replace flood-damaged classrooms, some relocated to nearby temporary facilities, and others were cleaned and repaired.
“FEMA moved quickly to help get environmental work done so portable classrooms could be brought in,” said Minot public schools superintendent Mark Vollmer. “We were very pleased with this quick action. FEMA was also very quick to write project worksheets to expedite funding reimbursement.”
FEMA has declared two of the campuses – Ramstad Middle School and Lincoln Elementary School – too damaged to be repaired. The agency will pay 90 percent of the cost of rebuilding the two educational facilities. The state will fund 7 percent and the school district the remaining 3 percent. However, the process of planning, designing and constructing the schools will likely take several years.
The most challenging aspect of getting physical facilities ready for the new school year was transporting the modular classrooms to Minot and assembling them on temporary sites. Innovative Modular Solutions of Bolingbrook, Ill., supplied 60,000 square feet of educational space comprising 10 modular units with 64 total classrooms.
Each modular classroom can hold up to 30 students. The two-, six- and eight-classroom buildings vary in size from 28 feet wide by 70 feet long to 68 feet wide by 126 feet long. The 10-classroom buildings are 72 feet wide by 154 feet long and also contain office space.
The modular classrooms are surprisingly roomy, and contain everything one would expect in a modern educational environment including smart boards, ceiling-mounted projectors and ample lighting. Each modular unit also has drinking fountains and restrooms. With winter approaching, the modules are also outfitted with heating and insulation, as well as heat tape for the water pipes.
The temporary school buildings are eligible for funding under the Public Assistance Recovery Policy provision for Temporary Relocation of Facilities passed in December 2010.
Everyone seems to be making the best of their new quarters. Ramstad Middle School is calling its move to the municipal auditorium “Ramstad @ the AUD” and has printed up bright red T-shirts with that phrase, a way for students to embrace (and many years from now recall) what will surely go down as one of the more memorable events of their school days.
“Staff and students are adjusting very well to the new surroundings,” said Vollmer. “We are very pleased with the temporary locations and would like to thank FEMA team members for their continued support.”
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.