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Ike Damaged Library Re-Opens

They got their library back. Six months after Hurricane Ike left it in ruins, students at Valley West Elementary in southwest Houston celebrate the grand opening of their library. The restoration was made possible with the help of a company that prides itself in helping the community. Pat Hernandez has more.


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image of Tony Vaughn reading to studentsTony Vaughn : “Are you guys ready to read?”

Students: “Yes.”

Vaughn: “OK, today’s book is going to be ‘Clifford Goes to Dog School.’ ”

Students settle in for a reading lesson from a special guest from Devon Energy. The Oklahoma based company helped to reopen the library that suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Ike last September. Sandra Little is principal at Valley West.

“The roof leaked and damaged all the books on that side of the library, and that was over three thousand dollars worth of books.”

Librarian Gretchen Silva says co-workers at the school tried to prepare her for what Ike did.

image of Librarian Gretchen Silva“Everybody comes, telling me at the front, ‘oh no, the library, it’s bad.’  And so, I came back here and when I walked back here, this whole side, they had taken all the books out and they were all in the back room. The carpet was all ripped out. The shelves were all over the place. It looked like an actual hurricane had come through.”

The Houston School District came in with repairs, but replacing damaged or destroyed books is a slow process. In comes Devon Energy to the rescue. Tony Vaughn is senior vice president of the company’s gulf division.

“We’ve set aside about two million dollars as a corporation to go into the Houston area and try to find places much like Valley West here, to incorporate our resources — both time and money — back into the community, and help restore Valley West library back to its pre-Ike condition.”

Principal Sandra Little says libraries are an important resource for students.

“This is what makes learning exciting when they can sit down and read a book, and go to far away places and learn brand new things and imagine and dream.”

Librarian Silva says she loves to see the kids’ quest for knowledge.

image of Thank you cake to Devon Energy“Just seeing the kids with the books, you don’t see it as often nowadays as you used to.”

Hernandez : “You’re part of a dying breed?”

Silva: “Yes (laughter). Yeah, you have to have those books.”

Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.

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