Shelter Service Cost Schools Nearly $50K

SNOW HILL — The Worcester County Board of Education is facing almost $50,000 of unexpected expenses after having several schools serve as emergency shelters during Hurricane Irene last month. Whether any or all of those expenses will be reimbursed is still up in the air.

County schools spent $22,381 during the weekend of Irene and an additional $22,500 was spent on in-kind services, such as extended electric costs, gas and employee costs.

“There was a lot of people cost involved,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jon Andes.

In total, acting as shelters cost about $5,000 per school per day. Open from Friday Aug. 26 at 5 p.m. until noon that Sunday, the shelters hosted roughly 700 citizens. The drain was significant, noted Andes, especially since issues with food prompted the schools to serve meals from their own stockpiles of supplies, at a cost of more than $2,000. Andes pointed out that it was a good thing Irene struck the weekend before classes were scheduled to begin. Any earlier and school freezers would not have been as well equipped.

Now that the costs are tallied the board is hoping for either state or federal reimbursement to some degree, since the county isn’t required to cover those kinds of expenses.

“It depends on the federal government and the state,” said Andes.

He revealed that a claim has been filed with both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, one of which he hopes will eventually offer compensation for the cost of the shelters.

“It takes a long time,” he said.

In the meantime, however, he asserted that the board will continue to offer schools as shelters for emergencies, including any future storms.

“It’s a role we perform in our community,” he said.