An entire school district must be rebuilt
The December 2007 flood hit Vernonia’s schools hard. All of the buildings were filled with tainted water from the nearby sewage facility. Since the flood, the nearly 700 students in the district have been displaced into nearby minimally repaired buildings and old modular classrooms, still located in the floodplain and vulnerable each winter to another flood.
Students are making the best out of a challenging learning environment. The middle and high school students are in modular classrooms that lack sufficient natural light and ventilation. The outdoor layout—with two blocks between buildings—precludes students from having access to standard amenities like lockers, and forces them to go outside (without lockers, carrying all of their belongings) throughout the day and in all weather conditions. The high school science lab was demolished, and the library was relocated into a much smaller facility, limiting access to research and homework resources.
Basic repairs have been made to the elementary school, but it would likely sustain damage in the event of an earthquake, and must be replaced. Its roof leaks during the frequent rainstorms, and buckets are used in the attic to prevent the rainwater from running into classrooms. What was the middle school now houses the high school office and some classes, and the high school has been mostly demolished, leaving only the gym, locker rooms and a band room.
With all of its schools in the new federally-designated floodplain, the cost to repair and insure these schools against future floods is prohibitively expensive and imprudent—leaving Vernonia in the unprecedented position of having to rebuild a complete kindergarten through 12th grade school district all at once.