PLUMAS COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — Monday was the first day back to school for students at Greenville Elementary School in Plumas County, but their school, along with their town, was completely destroyed last month.
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond got an up-close look at not only the damage but the resilience of the community.
“We didn’t really think that it would happen to us. And I kept telling my daughter during the evacuation, ‘Don’t worry. Our house is going to be here. This is a precaution.’ And then it just kept getting closer and closer, and you’re wondering, ‘Is our school going to be here?’” said first-grade teacher Kara Cardona.
The last few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for Cardona and others at Chester Elementary as one of the largest wildfires in California destroyed a beloved town within their school district.
“When Greenville happened, it was just devastating to all of us because they’re a part of our school district,” Cardona said.
But a light is shining at the end of the tunnel for local educators and Plumas Unified’s superintendent.
“The people are resilient,” Thurmond said. “We, on behalf of the Department of Education, standby to support the people here in any way we can.”
Thurmond offered assistance while making a stop at the now-destroyed Greenville Elementary School.
“Today, we brought just a few gift cards, some voucher-type resources to help with gas, but we want to go beyond that,” Thurmond said.
Thurmond welcomed back Greenville students as they attend a new campus in nearby Taylorsville. Plumas Unified Superintendent Terry Oestreich is also asking for more portable campuses and technology as soon as possible.
“If we can make that happen, as our executive director had said, make it happen tomorrow, that would be amazing,” Oestreich said.
“At first, you don’t even know how to respond,” said Asm. Megan Dahle, R-Plumas County. “It’s heart-wrenching, the phone calls that come into our office.”
Thurmond and his constituents are ready to help more school districts affected by wildfires with more funding.
“We have more than $4 billion to support mental health programs, $3 billion for wrap-around support in community schools. Our job is to see how we can minimize the challenges and responsibilities, and we’re going to be there every step of the way,” Thurmond said.
Some children who attend Greenville elementary went to Chester to continue their education, but now, they will go to the new Taylorsville campus.