PARKERSBURG - Wood County Schools officials say it may be weeks or even months before the full cost of storm damage is known, but estimates are the cost could exceed $100,000.
Connie Roberts, director of finances for Wood County Schools, said officials are working to gather information on the extent of damage caused by the June 29 derecho that knocked out power, uprooted trees and damaged roofs, signs and fencing throughout the county.
Roberts said with the school system spread out over more than 30 facilities and more than a thousand employees, gathering the full cost of the storm damage is a daunting task.
The north end zone at Stadium Field at Parkersburg High School had the field turf turned up by the power of wind during the recent storms. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
"Any expense associated with getting the buildings back to their pre-storm condition would be part of this process," she said. "We are working on (the final cost) but we have not compiled any numbers yet I'd feel comfortable giving out. They are just too preliminary."
Roberts said the district's insurance carrier has indicated the storm damage will be classified under one event.
"It is a single occurrence and we would have to meet one deductible," she said. The school system's deductible is about $5,000, she said.
That payment would come out of the district's contingency fund, she said.
Sue Woodward, assistant superintendent of school services, said an initial report sent to Travelers Insurance showed $36,000 in overtime and materials cost to the school system's maintenance department. That initial figure did not include any contracted work needed or additional materials which will be ordered, only what was on hand and the time put into the repairs.
Woodward said many roof repairs and some other work will have to be bid out, a process which won't take place until insurance adjusters are able to view damages and give the district an idea of its cost.
Woodward also said initial estimates place the cost of replacing a destroyed marquee sign at Jackson Middle School at $11,000 and officials have yet to determine the cost of a destroyed marquee at McKinley Elementary School.
Woodward said the final costs easily could run $100,000 or more.
"We don't want to overblow it, but we don't want to underestimate it either," she said.
Woodward said food lost during the subsequent power outage also will be its own claim. The school system has a $1,000 deductible for lost food and has a coverage cap of $15,000, a cap she said the district won't reach.
"Our main freezer facility was only out of power for a short period of time and we had a generator for that," she said. "What we lost was milk which was at the schools and what was stored in the fridge and freezers at Parkersburg South High School for our summer programs."
Woodward said had the outage occurred during the regular school year much more would have been lost.
"We would have had a week's worth of food at each school," she said. "It would have been much worse."
Jason Butcher, public information officer for the West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner, said the organization does not have an estimation on the cost of the storm.
"Unless we were to contact each insurance company and ask them how much they estimate it will cost, and even then they wouldn't have to give us anything," he said. "It'll be next year before they send in their annual reports. It's just not something we track."
Butcher said depending on how quickly the claims are filed it could be two years before the state has an accurate tally of how much damage the storm cost residents and insurance carriers.
"It'll be a while before we could even get an idea of their losses," he said.