Morning Tornado Briefing: Schools Reopening Next Week

Our commitment to bringing you quick updates in a briefing form won’t take a break on the weekend, at least for this first couple of post-tornado weeks. This morning, we have some good news, and we’re hoping that this continues a trend for next week.

City Update Clears More Streets

The city of Dallas provided a fairly brief update (compared to days prior) Friday evening, and shorter updates generally indicate that conditions are beginning to improve.

The biggest news? Crews made a lot of progress, and the north and southbound lanes at Royal Lane and Northaven Road are open, and eastbound Royal from Preston to Hillcrest is open, too. It may take a little longer to get the Royal and Preston area clear — it took a pretty big hit. The Hillcrest Road and Orchid Lane area was hit pretty hard, so you’re still going to see some closures for a while in those areas.

Dallas police announced Friday morning that it is planning to move the command post at North Central Expressway off Royal and Hillcrest to Watermark Church, pending permission, so the intersection at Royal and Hillcrest could open up.

Sanitation is still chugging through all that debris and is making progress.

The Bachman Recreation Center is still acting as a respite center. The city’s Office of Emergency Management is in the process of setting up a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) to provide wrap-around services for those impacted by the storm.

Oncor said that power had been restored to all storm-related outages for homes and businesses where it was safe to do so with the exception of a few homes near Northaven.

Friday morning, the city announced that the damage assessment is done, and a summary outline has been presented. Called the Damage Summary Outline, it is the initial snapshot for the city when it comes to residential and business losses and impact.

That DSO has a preliminary estimate of more than $250M in damages. This assessment is based on property values, so obviously it will go up as the city gathers more information. Next up will be a joint assessment with the state.

St. Marks Will Reopen Next Week

Last night, St. Marks notified parents and students that the campus would be up and running enough for everyone to return on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

Teachers will return for an abbreviated day Monday to prepare, and the school day Tuesday will have a mid-morning start time.

“The St. Mark’s campus is slowly and intentionally coming back to life with the reconnection of power late yesterday and the ongoing repair and cleanup activities of our facilities and grounds,” said St. Marks Eugene McDermott Headmaster David Dini. “The American flag is once again flying at the front of campus, and optimism is on the rise.”

Officials said that the majority of the campus sustained little or no damage, with the exception of the destroyed Hicks Athletic Center. Also damaged was the chapel, Decherd Fine Arts Center, and Nearburg Hall.

“The only building that we expect will not be usable when classes resume is the Decherd Fine Arts Center, which will be undergoing significant repairs for several more weeks,” Dini said.

The St. Marks Lions won their homecoming game against Greenhill last night, and Todd Jorgenson has that game update.

Gateway Church Offers Crisis Relief Location

Gateway Church has offered up its Dallas campus on Hillcrest as a crisis relief center, partnering with Samaritan’s Purse, a global relief organization, to help mobilize volunteers and help with clean-up efforts.

The church has also partnered with Mercy Chefs to offer free lunch and dinner to first responders, volunteers, and affected homeowners, as well as Minuteman Disaster Response and The Goodness Project.

“Our community is hurting right now, and it’s our desire to help as many people as we can,” says Steve Thompson, Gateway Dallas Campus Pastor. “Our hearts and prayers are with our neighbors as we begin the clean-up and recovery process.”

Volunteers are needed daily to help with meal prep, assist with community clean-up efforts, and run the phone bank, which has been set up to take calls from anyone needing home repairs. Those interested in volunteering should arrive at the Gateway Dallas Campus at 7:30 a.m. to serve a full day or at 12:30 p.m. to serve a half-day. Volunteers should come dressed in durable attire; closed-toe shoes and a hat are recommended.

No donations will be received or distributed at the Gateway Dallas Campus crisis relief center at this time.

Dallas ISD Schools Settling In
Courtesy Dallas ISD

As we told you yesterday, volunteers have been working hard to make sure that Thomas Jefferson High School students still get to celebrate homecoming. That celebration got a little better Friday when the Park Cities Dads Club presented a check to the school at the homecoming pep rally to pay for all homecoming shirts.

No word yet on when Pershing Elementary will reopen. But the district did provide this glimpse into what it takes to hold classes in Loos Field House, where Pershing has been temporarily placed until the school is once again ready for students.

If you’re still interested in helping, we have several opportunities listed here.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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