News

Students back despite ‘flood’

Holiday water line break affects 60 percent of junior-high building
By MIKE BROWN
Reporter Editor


Above, Supt. Dr Howell Wright surveys restoration work with less than four days left until classes resume. At right, water gushes down a hallway into a classroom area. Also see photo, page 4B. 
Reporter/MIke Brown and Rockdale ISD Above, Supt. Dr Howell Wright surveys restoration work with less than four days left until classes resume. At right, water gushes down a hallway into a classroom area. Also see photo, page 4B. Reporter/MIke Brown and Rockdale ISD Students at Rockdale Junior- High School returned from the annual winter break on schedule Monday morning and that represents something of a Christmas time miracle.

In less than two weeks a Rockdale construction company, and a San Antonio-based catastrophe management firm, got RJH back in functioning order after a flood went through about 60 percent of the building.

Supt. Dr. Howell Wright told The Reporter a water pipe above a central restroom, between the library and commons area, ruptured early on Christmas Eve.

Water poured into more than half of the building, including nine classrooms, the library and the commons area.

“The commons looked like a swimming pool,” Dr. Wright said. “Water was probably six to eight inches high”

RESTORATION—But the restoration project began almost immediately with representatives of Gerloff Company on the scene literally within hours.

Gerloff cleaned and dried the building and Bland Construction took over from there, tackling the massive job of replacing tile, carpet, sheet-rock, paneling, re-painting and more.

There was also plenty of new plumbing. Gerry Mitchan, RISD maintenance/transportation director, said the water break was traced to a $40 water pipe nipple (connector) which failed.

Every similar connector in the building was replaced during the restoration project, he said.

DISCOVERY—It could have been worse. The break occurred during the Christmas-New Year’s holidays and no one would have been in the building for days.

But the break triggered an alarm for Rockdale Police, Ofc. Brandon Tess responded, saw water pouring from the building and notified school officials.

What to do next?

Amazingly, Dr. Wright had recently received a business card from Gerloff.

“A former superintendent had come by the administration building and had left me the card, saying if we ever needed the services of a disaster assessor and manager, they would do an excellent job,” he said.

Gerloff was on the scene that morning.

CERTIFICATE—First order of business was to drain and dry out the building.

“One thing that worked in our favor was that the commons was in between the leak and the gym,” he said. “That saved us from having to replace the gym floor.”

Gerloff pumped the water from the building and began the drying process. Gerloff then was able to present the Rockdale ISD a certificate showing that the building had been dried appropriately, conforming with state standards, and was ready for restoration work.

Enter Bland Construction. “They have worked night and day on the project,” Dr. Wright said. “ They were very dedicated to the goal of getting this huge task accomplished in time for students to return to classes.”

Charles Bland, business owner, told The Reporter, the firm worked at the school every day but two leading up to Monday.

“One of those was a drying day and nobody could work,” he said. “We even worked on New Year’s Day.”

The project was completed over the weekend and students returned to RJH, on schedule, Monday morning.

‘A WASH’—Rockdale ISD is, of course, insured against such catastrophes.

“We have a $10,000 deductible,”

Dr. Wright said. “And we will also have to pay for the plumbing work.”

But some of the work completed over the past few days was due to be done anyway and was in the budget, making it likely the expenses will come out about even, so far as the RISD and its taxpayers are concerned.

In other words “a wash.”

But “wash” is probably not the kind of terminology Rockdale ISD administrators to ever want to hear again.


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2013-01-10 digital edition



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