Brookport School Helps Students Cope With Tornado
MASSAC COUNTY -- It's been one month since a tornado tore through Brookport and damaged nearly 200 homes. That destruction also left several young students without a permanent home. It's a tough situation that their school and teachers are trying to make a little easier.
Soon after the storm hit on November 17, the staff at Brookport Grade School hit the streets. It was a mission to hand out supplies and learn more about the students. The time also gave them knowledge about what their kids would need when the school re-opened a couple days later.
The streets outside Brookport Grade School still bear the mark of an EF-3 tornado. Inside the classrooms, lessons and learning are moving forward.
The school routine is giving the young students at least one place that's normal.
"I feel like they are back onto the road to recovery," said school psychologist Jana Norton.
Norton is proud of how the kids have bounced back from the storm. Nearly 30 students lost their home and others are dealing with damage.
"Their world at that point was very chaotic," said Norton.
To keep the kids on track, the school set up busses to help families displaced across Massac County. Some of those services are still running a month later.
"When a child is considered homeless, they have the right to attend their school, their home school," said Norton.
They've encouraged students to share their stories from November 17th. Kids have been sharing experiences in writing exercises and special time in class.
"They were scared, they were terrified, you know my mom was holding me," said Norton. "You hear those things, and then they say, but we're okay."
A huge outpouring of help from all over Illinois and the country has also provided every child with new clothing.
Support has sometimes arrived in unexpected packages. Other grade schools have donated a pizza party and Christmas presents.
"It really has meant a lot to them to know that other kids their age care enough to do something like that," said fourth grade teacher Becky Neader.
A third grade class also received letters about tornados from a teacher and students in Moore, Oklahoma. That town was heavily damaged from an EF-5 tornado in May.
"They knew they weren't alone," said third grade teacher Lisa Penrod. "That there were other schools and other kids that were feeling the same thing they were feeling."
Norton says the kids are excited about the Christmas holiday. However, there isn't really a timeline for when homes in Brookport will be rebuilt.
The process could take awhile. Norton plans to watch student behavior after the break to make sure kids are still coping with the changes.
Wind: 0 MPH
Humidity: 93 %