TERREBONNE PARISH, La. — We are quickly approaching the one year mark since Hurricane Ida ripped apart homes, businesses and schools, but now students are returning to their campuses.
School starts Tuesday at South Terrebonne High School, but the main school building is still severely damaged from Hurricane Ida. New, temporary, modular buildings were installed on campus so students can return to class.
"Enrollment is usually about 1,000, but after the storm, we had students displaced," the school's new principal, Madge Gautreaux, said.
About 830 students will return to campus for the first time in about a year.
"It's a big relief for everybody," said Rhett LeCompte, whose daughter is starting her sophomore year.
He recalls his daughter learning from another school about 25 minutes away last school year after Ida.
"She went to school at 12:30 at H.L. Bourgeois, so they did a platoon schedule," LeCompte explained.
"Our students and coworkers went through a huge trauma and some are still dealing with those traumas and we have to remember that," Gautreaux said.
Katy Ledet has taught at South Terrebonne High for 12 years.
"Everyone is just so buzzing with excitement. I love the new classrooms, the modular buildings are beautiful," she said.
Recovery is still ongoing for her community, but being back on campus is a huge sign of progress, Ledet believes.
"You get to bring the gators back to the swamp and that’s a big deal," Ledet said.
The temporary modular buildings are leased and will be removed when students can return to the main building, but until then it’s a place students will learn back home on campus.
"You'd never know this was a modular building when you're sitting in here," Gautreaux said while looking around the science lab.
"We're excited for Friday night football games, back here in the swamp," Ledet said.
The students will have class in the modular buildings until their school is fixed which could be about three years.