Hurricane Florence Aid for North Carolina Students and Teachers

North Carolinians are being challenged to help the students and educators whose lives have been devastated by Hurricane Florence
Photo courtesy of the NC Department of Public Instruction
Restoration crews worked hard to clean up water damage to Gentry Elementary School in Harnett County.

While many parts of the state are still reeling from the impacts of Hurricane Florence, North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson joined a group of current and former education leaders this past week to announce a fundraising drive to help public and charter schools recover. The effort, known as “FAST NC,” (Florence Aid to Students and Teachers) is a bipartisan plan to support students and teachers affected by the storm.

Johnson has spent the last two weeks touring the devastated coastal region and says the damage to schools alone is well over $30 million. “In Craven County, the schools will be ready to open in just a week but the entire community is a loss,” Johnson says. “Homes were flooded up to the rooftops. So that means not only do we have families, parents, students who have lost everything, we had teachers in those communities who have lost everything and they have nowhere to go right now.”

Florence caused at least 1.2 million, or about 80 percent of that state’s public school students to miss school. Many school buildings are damaged, and several districts are closed indefinitely due to displacement, flooding and storm-related disturbances.

Johnson emphasizes the importance of people donating new school supplies that FAST NC volunteers can deliver to students and teachers in districts affected by the hurricane.

The fund will coordinate its efforts with local superintendents, charter school directors, and statewide associations to identify needs and direct funding. In addition, FAST NC leaders are continuing to add to a growing list of partner organizations assisting the effort including education, religious, and business-oriented groups.

Johnson says he was glad to see the two sides work together and overcome any preexisting political barriers in an effort to put kids and teachers first.

“I’m proud to stand with this group and ask for support from North Carolina,” he says. “We are a state that comes together when times are tough, puts aside differences and we does what’s right for students and educators.”

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