HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Classes were canceled today for students in the Hempfield Area School District after Wednesday’s severe weather caused damage at several buildings.

The roof at the high school was partially ripped off while roof damage is also being reported at West Hempfield Elementary School.

As crews surveyed the damage and started cleanup today at the high school, they found total destruction on the school’s football field, mangled messes of debris, twisted piles of metal and serious damage to the school.

“A section of the roof blew off a part of the building. We believe the auditorium roof may have lifted,” said Superintendent Terry Foriska, of the Hempfield School District. “That’s what we’re doing today. We’re assessing that damage to see where we are and how extensive that is.”

Engineers and inspectors now have to see how secure the building is before students can be let back in.

School was canceled today across the district so officials could evaluate all the damage. Meanwhile, the Hempfield Schools Superintendent says he’s thankful none of the 200 students who were at the school last night were hurt.

“We do have plans and we do have procedures in place that we practice,” said Foriska. “We have drills for things like this.”

The roof that used to be over the mini-theater is now gone. Mary Jo Sarracino, an 18-year-old senior at the high school, was in the theater last night, practicing for the school musical.

She said faculty kept everyone calm and got the students to safety, but there were terrifying moments waiting for the storm to pass.

“We just all sat down there. It was so scary,” Sarracino said. “You could hear everyone crying, screaming and praying.”

Damage was also done to the middle school, although less serious. But there are still concerns over the stability of the roof.

Hempfield Area School District
Westmoreland County Emergency Management

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