By Don Ellzey

A disaster clean-up company has been hired by the Tangipahoa Parish School Board to begin operations immediately to get Amite West Side Middle Magnet School suitable for the resumption of classes.

The school took on about 18 inches of water during the weekend’s flood.

In a hurriedly called special meeting of the board in Hammond Saturday morning at the law office of board President Brett Duncan, the group voted to declare the school situation an emergency and hire Cotton Global Disaster Solutions to begin the cleanup operation. By declaring an emergency, the board did not have to take bids.

The board hopes the work will be completed in time for classes Thursday.

Cotton Global is the same company that handled the cleanup of Hammond Eastside Elementary following a fire about three years ago. The board at that time was well pleased with the speed and efficiency by which the company completed the job.

At Amite West Side, the gym, office and a few classrooms were the only areas spared flood damage.

Another school flooding concern the board will have to address is possible flooding at theHammond Eastside Magnet and Hammond High School campuses, both on River Road off U.S. 190 east of Hammond.

On Saturday, the Ponchatoula Volunteer Fire Department sent one of its assigned Louisiana National Guard trucks and crew to Independence to help with flood relief efforts in that community, which was hit hard by the flood.

In South Tangipahoa, Interstate 12 between Hammond and Slidell remained closed as of Sunday morning.

Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a statewide emergency for what he calls an unprecedented and historic flood event. Not even the governor was spared the wrath of the flood waters. He and his family were forced to leave the governor’s mansion in Baton Rouge Saturday when the basement filled with chest-high water, and the electricity was shut off.

St. Helena and Livingston parishes also had severe flooding, with Livingston getting about 17 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.