20 Aug 2014
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Montauk School Sustained Damage During Storm

Principal says four classrooms are badly damaged, but destruction is very much in perspective as school community mourns Dee Wright.

The loss of Edith (Dee) Wright, a teacher's aide at the Montauk School, who died in the treacherous waves the storm brought on Monday, far overshadowed the devastation Sandy brought to the building.

The rubberized roof on a portion of the school's 1965 addition, which faces the black top playground, was blown back on itself, exposing the four classrooms underneath it, according to Jack Perna, the school principal and district superintendent. No structural damage occurred, he said.

Custodians discovered the mess on Tuesday morning. The rooms were soaking wet from the rain, Perna said. Asphalt shingles from other portions of the building were also damaged.

Two second grade classes and two fourth grades class have been moved to the Multi-purpose room and music room. Perna said, the music teacher will travel to teach in other classrooms, while his is being used.

Custodians worked quickly to remove the water, so the floor tiles were not destroyed. Some books were lost to water damage, but computers and Smartboards, as well as related equipment, seems to have been spared, he said.

Repairs, though, could take two months, Perna said.

Insurance covers the damages, he said, adding he got in touch quickly with the insurance agent and was told: "Do what you need to do to get the building back up and running."

School was cancelled all week, so students and even some faculty members weren't aware the school had sustained such damaged.

By Tuesday afternoon, word spread that the woman's body that washed up in the surf on Georgica Beach in East Hampton was in fact Wright, a well-liked teacher's aide and long-time Montauk resident, who went missing during the storm on Monday night. "Once that became a reality, everything else is secondary," Perna said.

In a note to the school community, posted on the school website on Friday, Perna addressed the tragic loss:

"Dee Wright was a wonderful person, a fine member of our staff, and, if you are lucky enough to know her daughters, you’d know she must have been a near-perfect mother. She will be missed." He said he will talk to the students, whom he said might want to discuss it further at home. "My advice is to just be honest with them and to let them know you love them. My experience is that the kids are usually much more resilient than we are, but, again, they need to know, and hear, how you feel."

Perna also warned that weakened limbs and trees may continue fall, that the surf is still rough, and downed wires are still being discovered. "Property, buildings, and cars can all be replaced; people can’t. This has always sounded so cliché…not anymore," he said.


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