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Superintendent Of Lee County Schools In Alabama Discusses Tornado Relief Efforts


Now we turn to Mac McCoy. He's the superintendent for the Lee County School System. Welcome to the program.

MAC MCCOY: Hi. Thank you very much.

CORNISH: Now I understand that there were some children who were among the dead - kids who may have been in your school system. Can you talk about what you've learned so far?

MCCOY: What we've been told so far is we have three students - three children that have lost their life that did attend a Lee County school.

CORNISH: Have you had a chance to speak with their families or their teachers?

MCCOY: No, those names have not been publicly released. And so we're waiting on the coroner to do that, and then we will reach out to those families. We've had teachers from the community out in the staging areas for the families that have been displaced. We've had them out at the hotels contacting, you know, any family members that we can help them get back together with.

CORNISH: I understand, of course, you've closed schools for today and tomorrow. What kind of damage have those facilities sustained?

MCCOY: You know, what's amazing is the community of Beauregard - the schools are fine. It's the housing - the residents - residential area of Beauregard that got hit the hardest.

But in Smiths Station, we have West Smiths Station Elementary School that suffered - one of its buildings, the roof was torn off. We're in the process of drying that in and getting it up and running as quick as possible. Talking with construction and engineers, we may have that back in place by as early as Monday in full working condition.

CORNISH: You said you've had teachers out reaching out to families. Can you talk about how you're thinking about reopening - what kind of services you might have for what may be many traumatized kids and families?

MCCOY: We have crisis counseling with our own crew that - they come together as a school system and then go to the areas that have need. In a situation like this, where you have multiple schools that have been affected - and even if you weren't directly involved at that school, we are such a close-knit community. A family member may go to another school across the county but has lost, you know, someone in the Beauregard area.

So we've - we have a great community here with churches and counseling systems. Other school systems have offered their help in coordinating that. We will have a crisis intervention team set up at every school just in case somebody needs to talk. We will provide that to adults and to children. And we will have it until no longer needed.

CORNISH: What do you think your community needs right now?

MCCOY: Prayers. I know that sounds corny, but it's pretty stressful on everybody. American Red Cross, Salvation Army - again, the local churches have been fantastic getting clothes, food. It's a very strong community that has come together. And previously in what I heard, you know, they're predicting possible snow tonight. And it's crazy. It's just the craziest weather you've ever seen.

CORNISH: That's James - Mac - McCoy...


CORNISH: ...Superintendent for Lee County School System. Thank you for speaking with us.

MCCOY: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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