LA GRANGE, TEXAS - After historic flooding hit their town following Hurricane Harvey, teachers and students in La Grange finally started their first day of school Tuesday -- one week after school was scheduled to start.
Flood waters damaged or destroyed about 500 homes and homeowners have spent a week trying to clean and salvage what they can.
Many said the start of school is a step toward normalcy.
Seventeen-year-old Paola Murillo is excited for the new school year.
"It's not the way I would have expected it to start, you know with everything that happened," Murillo said.
She's thankful to finally wear her senior overalls -- a first day right of passage. It's one of the only things she was able to save from her family's flooded home.
"We lost everything, in our home, just nothing is usable pretty much," said Murillo. "It made us not have a home, pretty much."
But after a week of cleaning, she was happy to return to the hallways and classrooms that are now her most familiar home.
"By the end of the week I was like, 'I'm so ready to get into a routine,'" said Murillo.
Down the road, in a first grade classroom, Mary Matocha agrees.
"Today is our first day of school so we're here welcoming all the new kiddos today," said Matocha.
Matocha said it's been one of the hardest first days she's had.
"Just because there's been so much chaos of where are you going home, do you have a home," said Matocha. "We had a lot of prep before the actual flood so we were ready but then whenever everything came in and flooded it changed a few things a lot of the buses are changed so were calling parents making sure they are getting on the right bus."
She has four students in her class whose homes were flooded -- something she knows all too well.
"I was there with my two boys in the water and the water just kept coming and kept coming," Matocha said. "So when we look out it's just nothing but water, you can see the water coming in it has white caps."
The fire department had to rescue her family last week.
Tuesday, she talked to her class about rescuing her chickens.
"I'm hoping that it hit with them that we're all in this together," said Matocha.
Now she said it could be a year before they can return to their home.
"I'm sure it's going to be a while there so many people here in need of that type of work," said Matocha.
Bill Wagner, the superintendent of La Grange Independent School District said last week was rough for the whole community.
"It was a very long week emotionally, because you knew many of our students and their families were going through some very tough times," said Wagner.
He said everyone seemed glad to be back Tuesday
"Everyone is excited, it was great to see this morning as students were getting off the bus to see them smiling," said Wagner.
According to Wagner, they want any bit of normalcy they can get.
"It provides structure for our kids, you know I think all of us in our lives we need that structure," said Wagner. "Being in school, getting a new school year started, just everyday provides that because students know what's expected."
Superintendent Wagner said their rivalry district, Giddings, brought them water last week, and today dropped off more school supplies for families affected by the floods.
Matocha and Murillo are staying with friends.
"Without the help of the community, we would definitely, we would be nothing," said Murillo. "I know for sure without the help of the community we would be in a really tough situation right now.
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