4" chiller pipe bursts inside building...and no once notices for 2 days. Only on a government job.
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Water main break causes damage at Lely High
By JENNIFER BRANNOCK, firstname.lastname@example.org
July 27, 2005
A water main break at Lely High School has caused at least $500,000 in damage as administrators scramble to prepare the building for the first day of classes next month.
On July 16, a Saturday, a bolt joining two 4-inch pipes contained in the second-floor ceiling of the school wing rusted off, causing the main to break, said Russell Clukey, the Collier County school district's executive director for support services.
"When the plant operator came in Monday morning (July 18), he said it sounded like a brook was running through the hallway," he said.
Workers frantically have been tearing down walls, pulling up carpet and taking apart the ceiling in a hurried effort to rid the building of potential mold and other airborne hazards that could develop because of the break.
The pipes poured water onto the second floor, through the first-floor ceiling and into stairwells and the elevator shaft for nearly two days before the school's plant operator reported for duty July 18, Clukey said. By then, the potentially small leak had become a waterfall flowing down the stairs and through the ceiling.
Officials are not sure how many gallons of water poured through the school, but investigators will be able to determine the amount in the coming weeks, Clukey said.
Environmental consultants came into the school last week to assess the work to be done. They recommended that the walls and carpets in at least 12 classrooms be ripped out, along with Sheetrock in the walls of the cafeteria and along the building's main hallways, Clukey said.
"The damage was a bit more excessive than we originally thought," he said. "But we're doing all we can now so that we don't have to go back while kids are in school and fix things later."
Clukey said work in the flooded portion of the school may not be completed when teachers return on Aug. 8, but should be finished before students return on Aug. 15.
Environmental consultants from American Management Resources Corp. in Fort Myers conducted a visual inspection of the damage, and made recommendations for repairs based on what they saw. An air test will be conducted once repairs are completed — before students return to school — to make sure no mold or airborne hazards will cause unsafe conditions for students.
"We've been proactive in dealing with this right from the start, and we got the best people and consultants to deal with this," said Eli Mobley, director of security and environmental management for the School Board.
"We'll go back and test the air to make sure what's on the inside is the same as what we see on the outside" of the walls.
Mobley said inspectors noticed bits of mold at the base of some of the building's walls. The mold, he said, was probably already on the walls, and was caused by cleaning materials often used by custodians.
Workers are replacing the walls where the mold was discovered to prevent future problems, Mobley said.
Clukey said workers also are checking the building's other pipes, which are 10 years old, for rusting or other problems that could cause a similar incident. He said the School Board does not plan to take legal action against the company that installed the pipes.
"The No. 1 goal is to make sure this is a safe environment for teachers and students," Clukey said. "Workers are working on weekends and late nights here, and I think we're making great efforts."
Repairs to Lely High approaching $1M mark
By JENNIFER BRANNOCK, email@example.com
August 7, 2005
Damage estimates from the July 16 water main break at Lely High School rapidly are approaching the $1 million mark as crews continue working long days to get the building ready for the return of teachers and students.
Cleaning and repair crews continued working double shifts last week to ready Building C, where the damage occurred, for teachers' return Monday.
Despite the rising damage total, repairs mostly will be completed when students return Aug. 15, said Michele LaBute, chief operating officer for the Collier County School District.
"It's phenomenal the work they've done," she said. "We think just about everything will be done by the first day of school."
The school system's deductible on the insurance is $100,000 and insurance should cover the remaining costs of the repairs.
Investigators determined that a rusted bolt caused the water main to break, dumping chilled air-conditioning water throughout the building for two days. The break occurred on a weekend, so it wasn't discovered by the school's plant operator until he reported for work on that Monday, LaBute said.
Workers have replaced other similar bolts to prevent future breaks from occurring, she said.
A final report determining why the bolt, which was installed in 1991, rusted will be released in the coming months, LaBute said.
Officials attribute the rising damage estimate to rapid cleanup efforts and the replacement of the bolts.
Many of the classrooms damaged by the water have been renovated completely, and are just in need of cleaning, LaBute said. Two cleaning companies have been hired to sweep through the building as workers finish their repairs, she said.
The walls and ceilings in at least 12 classrooms, the cafeteria and some hallways in the building have been torn down and replaced in accordance with recommendations from environmental consultants, LaBute said.
A consultant has been on site every day, monitoring the repairs, she said.
Principal Mike Parrish said he has been in contact with several of the teachers who will be returning Monday.
"I think they trust that I'm making sure things are moving in the direction of finality," he said of the repairs. "I was a teacher, and I know that kind of (planning) time is sacred, but I've assured them that any extra time they'll need will be there."
Parrish, who started work at the school June 1, said the situation won't hinder his optimism for his first year as Lely's principal.
"The wind was taken out of my sails the first time I walked in and saw the water. It was a startling shock," he said. "But in the long run, this will just be a bump on the road.
"I like to look at these experiences as learning experiences, and I've learned just how well (everyone) has rallied around us."
Some teachers returning Monday won't be able to get into their classrooms and will have to do their planning elsewhere in the school, LaBute said.
Though they won't be able to decorate their classrooms immediately, they still should have ample time to prepare for students' return, she said.
"There might be a few situations, but I think everyone will be able to hit the ground running," Parrish said. "I want them to be comfortable."
If some classrooms remain unfinished next week, students and teachers will be able to use other vacant classrooms while their assigned rooms are put back in order, LaBute said.
"We're lucky, because this school is not at capacity," she said. "If we were at capacity and had portables (movable classrooms) filled, we'd have problems."
LaBute said environmental consultants will give officials a letter certifying the school's safety on Monday.
[Edited by tpa-fl on 08-12-2005 at 01:09 PM]