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"It just deserves to be saved": Grassroots Free School moving forward amid extensive damage

Posted at 5:29 PM, May 27, 2024
  • Staff, parents and students at the Grassroots Free School are still cleaning up after they saw extreme tornado damage.
  • Their director says they had to cancel summer camp and are hoping to be back open in the fall.
  • Watch the video to hear about the history of the school.


Educators at Grassroots Free School are figuring out what's next as both of their buildings were nearly destroyed on May 10.

The director of the school Kim Weinrich said she didn't know the damage would be so extensive at the Grassroots Free School.

"Quickly sent a message to the families that we weren't going to open for early care, assuming we'd be open at 9:30 because it would all be gone," Weinrich said.

But, the director of the alternative education school said that wasn't the case.

"As soon as I pulled up, I was in tears seeing the damage," Weinrich said.

Both buildings at the school saw extensive damage, with trees crashing into the middle of their main schoolhouse.

They are buildings that have historic meaning.

"It was an African American community's church and this building was a sharecropper's building in Southwood plantation," said neighbor Anthony Gaudio.

Gaudio said his kids went to the school. He says he also helped move the school to its current location off of Old Saint Augustine Road.

He lives around the corner.

"When the community formed, everybody bought into the community and donated 10 percent of what they bought to the school so the school has a little over 4 acres," Gaudio said.

4 acres that are dear to people like Ellie Westbrook and her daughter, student Louise Trindell.

"The library meant a lot to her and she was just looking at the library and it was pretty upsetting I think," Westbrook said.

But many have jumped in to help.

"On Saturday, we came and we did different trucks driving to the storage unit to the storage unit to take everything out of the building and take it to the storage location," Westbrook said. "We've had former students tarping the buildings."

Weinrich is very grateful for that help, and the board has already raised over 12,000 dollars,nearly half of their goal.

She said Grassroots has canceled their summer camp, which will be hard on their staff.

"I want to be able to pay them because this was income they were counting on," Weinrich said.

But, she hopes that they will be back open for the upcoming school year.

"My goal is to income form or fashion in August because we have to be there for our families our students because if we don't reopen in August, will we be able to reopen?" Weinrich said.

Until then, she said the clean up continues.

Others are still working to clean up, like city and county crews. They are clearing debris and closing off some lanes while they work. Make sure you drive carefully and keep in mind that county workers may be on the road.