LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – One million dollars worth of renovations were almost complete when December's tornado brought a million dollars in damage to Hackney Primary School.
"Getting back in Hackney causes you to hold your breath. It's a lot like walking to the altar and the bride not show up until six months later," said Lufkin ISD Superintendent Roy Knight.
The insurance agent told the district Hackney was the single highest property damage claim of any school district in the state last year.
"We've got a totally new roof, totally new air conditioning systems, totally new electrical systems that were blown away during the wind and the gas piping systems," said LISD Director of Support Services Morty Halyard.
The gym was almost gone, now it's been rebuilt. But evidence of the tornado is still there and a mural is scarred where the twister shifted the wall.
"I think one of the things that you'll learn the most from this project and I learned this quite frankly from my teachers, when you pitch together, you take a real unselfish approach, you can overcome almost any obstacle," said Knight.
Boxes now fill classrooms ready to be unpacked. But repairing the holes in ceilings and rebuilding the gym are just a few of the changes the district made.
"We learned from the path of the tornado, where kids ought to be sheltered within those classrooms, within that building to provide a safer opportunity for our kids, God forbid that should we ever face that again," said Knight.
Now kids will push their desks up against the corners of the wall and get under them instead of leaving their desks in the middle of the room. As the finishing touches are made, officials say they're anxious to settle in.
"I'm a little nervous. We have a hurricane brewing in the Gulf and we're three weeks from being finished this time from the repairs on the tornado, but I think we're home safe this time, we're ready to move back in," said Halyard.
Knight says the few extra months gave them time to put the finishing touches on the campus. They are getting ready to pour the concrete on the circle drive in front of the school.