Last month, Dallas experienced what was described as a once-in-a-thousand-year flood. Thunderstorms hit the Dallas-Fort Worth area starting Aug. 21. Over a 24-hour period, 8 to 12 inches of rain fell.
Flooded streets submerged vehicles and cause upwards of $6 billion in damage. However, one positive story developed from the quick action taken by two Dallas Independent School District employees to help save two siblings from rushing water.
School bus driver Simone Edmond and bus monitor Tekendria Valentine had just completed their daily special needs route when dispatch requested assistance in picking up additional children who needed transportation. However, when the bus arrived, Edmond told School Transportation News that the children were not present. Thinking they must have returned home because of the rain, she started heading back to the bus garage.
As she drove, Edmond said she noticed a child in the street wearing a floatation device. Flood waters had swept up the child, and another child was yelling for help. Edmond said the father had also jumped into the water while the mother yelled at Edmonds and Valentine to call 911.
Editor’s Note: Tekendria Valentine was unable to make the scheduled call with School Transportation News.
Edmond said she positioned the bus at an angle to try and dam the roaring waters. “We have no training [for floods], this was just my reaction,” she said. “I knew I had to be careful, but those kids needed help. So, I had to do what I had to do.”
Edmond said she and Valentine remembered they had wheelchair tie-downs on board and began to fashion a rope to throw to the children and their father. Neighbors had also gathered along the flood bank and formed a human chain to help reel everyone in.
Edmond is a 20-year veteran of pupil transportation and said her favorite part of the job remains seeing the kids every day and helping transport them to where they need to go safely. While she noted that these particular children were not on her route, they were members of the community and may go to Dallas ISD schools.
“Obviously, you can’t prepare for something like that,” said Angel Vales, the Dallas ISD director of student transportation.
He noted that transportation staff members attend professional development training as well as bus evacuation and emergency procedures.
“We’ve never trained for something of this magnitude,” he added. “I really think that what they did was amazing in terms of thinking outside of the box in a moment of crises and being creative on how they were able to pull those kids out of those rushing waters.”
Vales shared that the district is also looking to collaborate with the local police department to inquire about active shooter training. Additionally, he noted that the transportation department is going to determine if modifications need to be made to the overall training program to include weather disasters.
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Meanwhile, Edmond and Valentine have been deemed heroes by the transportation department as well as the district’s overall leadership team. They were honored at a luncheon with the superintendent and were served a superhero cake with their names on it.
“What they did was heroic, especially when they didn’t know how to swim, that takes a lot of courage,” Vales noted. “To put yourself in that position to help other people, it’s certainly commendable.”