School working on funding for flooding damages

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Classes relocated through remainder of semester if necessary

The Cassville school district is addressing flooding that occurred over the holiday break in the basement of the intermediate school, which affected fifth-grade classrooms.

Richard Asbill, superintendent, said in response to the damages, six classrooms were moved to some available rooms in the middle school in order to avoid a break in classes.

Asbill said he is not certain how long the classes will be temporarily displaced, but arrangements have been made for students to remain there for the rest of the semester if necessary, to avoid multiple moves, and because it could take that long to resolve or receive funding.

"We are currently evaluating that," Asbill said. "We will wait to see what the engineer or architect says in response to the repairs. With classes, it's not really productive to move people two or three times. We had the available rooms, and we'd rather get them settled in. If we can move them back, great, but if we get into the repairs and it takes longer, then no one was dependent on being back in by a certain date."

A figure hasn't been released yet on cost for the damages incurred to the building, but the flooring, furniture, bookcases and miscellaneous equipment was affected in a total of six classrooms, three supplemental classrooms, a nurse's office, two bathrooms, the hallway and storage closets from the 2-3 inches of flood waters that flowed through the building.

"We're still working on that and getting estimates," said Dusty Reid, facilities and operations director for the district.

"It doesn't actually happen at one moment. It takes 24-48 hours for that water to come in."

"We do not have any carpeting in that area," Asbill said. "Just concrete and vinyl floors. All of that tile will have to come up. Since it got wet, those tiles will eventually release from the concrete."

Asbill said the last time flooding had occurred in the building was in 2008.

"The building had just opened, and there wasn't as much rain, but a large amount of rain for a week or two, and after that, they had put in three interior and three exterior sump-pump wells."

Asbill said it helped with the recent flooding, but the sheer amount of water, amounting to 11 inches in less than three days, was more than what anybody counted on.

Funding to repair damages may be delayed up to 30 days or potentially longer.

The school is not considered to be in the flood plain, so the inability to obtain flood insurance doesn't impact it to the same extent as it would a homeowner, Asbill said.

However, because insurance is tentatively viewing the flood as caused by hydraulic pressure, it is not a covered expense.

"It is considered a natural disaster," he said. "It's like if you had a home and a basement, and the water came because it built up pressure around or underneath and came in that way. It didn't come through your door or window. Currently, we're working with our insurance, and they're going to evaluate some of the losses and look at some options, and we're working with the city and county in regard to a natural disaster declaration. If there's any funding through FEMA we will try to apply for that."

Asbill said once a declaration is made and if it determined the school is eligible for funding, that process could take approximately 30-45 days.

"We've turned in our numbers to the city and county," he said. "It is a little early for us to give a full report on repairs as we are still in the review phase. We still have the architects and engineers coming in to evaluate some of the damages."

Reid said responding to the flooding was a challenge at the time it was occurring.

"Three inches doesn't sound like much, but that's with the doors open," Reid said. "Water was coming into the building as fast as we could get it out. It was a continuous event. We opened the back doors and pumped it out into the back parking lot."

Maintenance crews are running fans and dehumidifiers trying to dry the area out.

"Most of the water is cleaned up now," Asbill said. "Our staff did a phenomenal job of getting it out. We got everyone moved over the break, and they got situated on Monday."

Because some of the classrooms in the middle school had not been used for some time, and the building was built during a different time period, there were a few challenges.

"One of the challenges was getting them Internet-ready," Reid said. "However, it all worked out and everything is operational."

Asbill said students and teachers have adapted just fine to the changes.

"Some of the fifth-grade classrooms that were in the lower area moved to classrooms with windows, and the students are pretty excited to have windows," he said. "Our students and teachers have done an outstanding job of being flexible the last couple of days. Students are going to class, recess and breaks like they normally did."

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