KATHLEEN, Fla — Crews at Kathleen Middle School have started to repair the gaping hole left by an EF-2 tornado.

The tornado touched down Friday night in parts of Polk County, destroying homes, churches, and schools.

Kathleen Middle School, a historic building and a fixture of the community, was torn apart. 

About four inches of water flooded the entire school after the fire suppression system was damaged by the tornado. The school’s electronics and computer labs were wrecked by water damage.

In just three days, restoration crews have cleaned up debris and started patching the roof. 

Deputy Superintendent of Polk Schools John Hill says he’s proud of the resilience of the community. 

“I’m really optimistic about this. Everyone has come together because for these students and our staff, it’s their home.”

The district was not able to provide an updated timeline for students to return to class, but that will be determined early this week. 

Classes are canceled Monday and Tuesday at the middle school but continue as normal in the rest of the district. 

The district will bring in 12 portable classrooms so students can return to school as soon as possible.

The district will notify parents of scheduling and classes through the district’s automated phone system.

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