As the Hurricane Florence damage to North Carolina's schools begins to be assessed, a bipartisan group of current and former North Carolina education leaders are letting teachers and students who lost everything in the storm know that help is on the way.
Former North Carolina Superintendent Mike Ward called on June Atkinson, another former North Carolina Superintendent, and current Superintendent Mark Johnson, to help create F.A.S.T. N.C., or Florence Aid to Students and Teachers of North Carolina.
F.A.S.T. N.C. will take donations through the existing North Carolina Education Fund to get funding directly to public schools and public charter schools that need it.
Johnson has been touring eastern North Carolina and said damages to schools, so far, sits at $30 million.
That figure, Johnson said, will rise as some flooded areas were inaccessible until now.
He said while some schools in some areas, like Craven County, took on minimal damage during and after Florence, the entire community surrounding those school buildings is a loss.
"Homes were flooded up to the rooftops," Johnson said. "So that means that not only do we have families, parents, students that have lost everything, we also had teachers in those communities who have lost everything. And they have nowhere to go right now."
F.A.S.T. N.C. will work with local superintendents and charter school directors, as well as education associations to identify the needs and direct funding.
"We want to send a signal that these circumstances call for leadership that transcends political barriers, leadership that reaches across divides, leadership that says first and foremost, the interest of our kids and our educators is paramount," said Ward.