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Lights back on at Sabal Palm Elementary, but Southwest Tallahassee has a long road of recovery ahead

Posted at 5:02 PM, May 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-13 17:02:44-04

  • Power returns to Sabal Palm Elementary School following Friday morning's tornadoes. Many different crews have worked round the clock to get students back in school.
  • However, many surrounding neighbors are still without power in Southwest Tallahassee.
  • Watch the video to find out how school closures will affect students.


Faculty from Sabal Palm Elementary weathered Friday's tornadoes inside the building. I'm hearing about their experiences and taking a look at the clean up process to get students back in school.

Neighborhoods still recovering from Friday morning's tornadoes.

"We've been without power since Friday morning," said Derex Henry, a Southwest neighbor who lives behind Sabal Palm Elementary.

Widespread damage can be seen across Southwest Tallahassee.

Principal Shannon Davis of Sabal Palm said the impacts have affected many members of the school community.

"Students obviously without power, but also with trees that have fallen on their roofs," said Davis, who heard the tornado come through the neighborhood.

Davis said Sabal Palm suffered fallen trees and loss of power. The surrounding streets were also in disarray.

"It looked like a war zone," said Davis.

In some areas, chaos persists.

Henry still does not have power. He says it's been difficult.

"To communicate with people and let them know you're okay, definitely can't take showers, the food in there gone bad," said Henry.

Principal Davis says they've received lots of support from the school district and many different agencies.

However, she added that the last 72 hours have been a logistical nightmare because there is not much school left.

"So we have really just pushed back some of our testing," Davis, "but we will do it, it just will be a day or two behind."

Superintendent of Leon County Schools, Rocky Hanna, said thankfully, 80% of testing has been completed.

Leon County Schools made the decision to close schools Monday at 1pm due to incoming severe weather warnings.

Hanna said he is focused on making sure seniors obtaining their seat time requirements for graduation.

"We have to look closely at where they are to make sure they have the appropriate amount of seat time of instructional time to earn those credits to graduate from high school," said Hanna.

Hanna said they are crunching the numbers.

Right now, students are still on track.

"Continue to fight, continue to work hard, for the best interest of our children," said Hanna.

Sabal Palm Elementary will resume testing on Wednesday. Principal Davis said hey want to give students a day to settle back into the school routine.