The flooding that killed at least 39 people in eastern Kentucky this summer also rampaged through Robinson Elementary School, collapsing the roof and destroying three decades’ worth of Robin Combs’ math curriculum materials, the New York Times reports. As they mourn the deaths in their community, including some children and staff, students and teachers from two schools in hard-hit Perry County are preparing to go back to school — in one building.
Despite only having running water in her own home for one day in more than three weeks, Ms. Combs has been working overtime to get lesson plans and facilities ready for students, while also hosting morale-boosting events to provide essentials like toothbrushes and toothpaste. Others, like Tara Boggs, who teaches at Fleming Neon Middle School, are doing all this in the dark, as a flooded basement has kept power off throughout the rest of the school.
“We’ll teach out of anywhere,” Chasity Short, who will be teaching her third-graders in a refurbished locker room at Robinson Elementary School, told the Times, displaying a dedication that is expected of teachers but rarely, if ever, compensated.
Climate change, mainly caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, is making extreme rain events and the flooding they set off worse and more frequent. While physical damage can be repaired, the long-term impacts of the floods will remain. “I just hate it,” Ms. Boggs told the Times. “I hate that some of these kids will never, ever be the same again.” (New York Times $; Climate Signals background: Extreme precipitation increase, Flooding)