Tornadoes ripped through much of the southern United States over the weekend, killing dozens of people, leaving millions without power and damaging homes and facilities.
According to the Monroe News-Star, Sterlington (La.) High School’s athletics facilities bore extensive damage during the storm, including damaged goal posts at the football stadium, a toppled light pole, and damage to the offensive line facility that had its roof blown off. Three storage sheds were destroyed at the school, and a sports medicine equipment trailer was toppled. Meanwhile, the first-base dugout and a ticket booth at the school’s baseball facility were damaged, safety netting at the softball field was blown down, and the soccer and track and field facilities were destroyed.
“I can promise you there are people in a lot worse shape than we are,” principal Jason Thompson told the News-Star. “Our athletic facilities did get the worst of it. I don’t know if it just bounced over the school, but for the most part the academic buildings are in good shape.”
The area had two confirmed tornadoes pass through on Sunday. School officials began assessing the damage on Monday.
“Every time we walk around we find something new,” head football coach and athletic director Lee Doty told the News-Star. “It’s definitely not what you want to come around the corner and see, but everything here is replaceable, and we’re fortunate in those regards.”
Thompson said that the next steps are to document the damage and prepare to file an insurance claim, which will be handled by the Ouachita Parish School System.
It’s estimated that the recovery efforts could take a few months, but community members were quick to rally behind the school and show their support.
“The amazing thing is the number of people who showed up to help,” baseball coach Mark Sims told the News-Star. “They met us up here on Sunday with chainsaws and other tools and just wanted to know what they could do.
“It just shows you how important this school is to our community. We’ve got a ways ahead to get back to where we were, but we’ll get there.”