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Marrero Middle School band loses instruments to Ida

About 100 instruments were damaged in the storm, and students worry they won't be able to play this school year

MARRERO, La. — Ida silenced a Jefferson Parish Middle School band.

The storm, dealt a heavy blow to Marrero Middle School and damaged the majority of their instruments. Now, the band director is now trying to figure out what he can do to bring the music back.

"I hope the instruments can be replaced this year," said 8th grader, Jaylon Wilson.

The door is locked and to band director Jeremy Williams, the silence is deafening. Williams has been the band director for about ten years. He says he was there when the band was only a few students, but it now has more than 100 participants.

"The kids here, they just want to play their music, play their instrument. It's that simple," he said.

However, they can't.

"I was sad," Wilson said. "Because all the instruments are gone."

It's all because of Hurricane Ida.

"The school itself took on damage, cosmetic things, internal water and wind damage, the biggest damage seems to be where the band room was," Williams said.

Some water got into the room and with the excessive heat and no power for days, the majority of what's behind the band room doors, is now damaged.

"It's like the perfect recipe to destroy any instrument," he said. "Right now, we're saying about 90% of the inventory, to throw out a number close to 90-100 different types of instruments."

"It was sad hearing that," Wilson said. "Knowing that we used to use those instruments and now they're gone."

Band members now meet in a different classroom. However, instead of playing their instruments, they learn musical theory. For Wilson, it's not the same. He says he joined band after watching the marching bands during Carnival, and not playing an instrument is tough.

"When I play my instrument, my head is clear," he described. "I just focus on playing my instrument. It's not as fun as when we had the instruments."

Williams gets it.

"When you play a musical instrument that becomes your voice, but when you no longer have the instrument, you no longer have your voice," he said. "You don't sign up for band in 6th grade and go through music theory. You sign up so you can play your instrument."

Which is why he's been trying to figure out how to get instruments back in his students' hands. He says since taking the job, his wife and he have done what they could to grow the program and help provide band supplies to students. Much of that has been with his own money. Replacing a whole fleet of musical instruments though, is something he can't do himself. Still he's doing what he can to bring the music back.

"It's just like what do you do when you see this," he said. "There's no time to think you act."

Jefferson Parish Public Schools has parish-wide insurance coverage for schools. The damages though from Ida, exceed the amount of available coverage, so donations are encouraged.

If you'd like to donate, an event is happening Saturday, Oct. 23. It's taking place at the New Orleans Jazz Museum from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can also contact Williams at Jeremy.Williams@jpschools.org.