JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – It’s been five months since Hurricane Irma tore through Northeast Florida and this week, construction to rebuild a Jacksonville Beach school gym will finally begin.
The storm ripped a giant hole in the ceiling of the gymnasium at St. Paul’s Catholic school. The school has sports teams like basketball and volleyball that require the gym. Since the storm damaged their gym, other area catholic schools were generous enough to open up their gyms for practices as well as games for the student athletes at St. Paul's.
Principal Krissy Thompson said the entire school has been looking forward to this week when construction will begin on a new gym for the school.
“We were really at the mercy of the community to find locations so all these events could go on. People have come out of the woodworks for us this year, said Thompson.
She’s thankful for the community stepping up to help the school find a place to go during this time and also thankful there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Not only did St. Paul's Catholic School lose their gym during Hurricane Irma- they also lost the playground adjacent to the gym. Thompson said the worst part was that right before the hurricane, the school had just spent $100,000 redoing the gym.
“We knew something was strange and opened the doors and water just was gushing out, and then just complete devastation seeing the roof on the floor in the gym,” said Thompson.
Since then, the school sports teams have used other area gyms to compete but, there is no place like home and they are ready for their home court back.
“With 700 students at St. Paul’s, we’ve had to get very creative in terms of outside time. I owe it all to my staff and the students for making the best of a bad situation,” said Thompson.
Thompson said construction will be complete a little after the next school year starts in mid-September.
The school will be holding a fundraiser on Saturday to help cover some of the costs to rebuild.
The Great Amazing Race, inspired by the TV show the ‘Amazing Race’ will be held at Patton Park. It begins at 1pm. The school said participants should be prepared to get a little dirty and wet.
Two-person teams will race around a 1.5 mile cross country course, completing a string of up to eight fun-filled outdoor challenges. Clue Cards provided at each station describes a challenge (task, obstacle, relay, etc.) that each team must complete before proceeding to the next challenge station. Teams will strive to arrive at the finish line with the fastest overall time to be declared the winners
More information and sign up can be found here.