A busted pipe filled half of Ardmore Middle School with water last Friday morning, causing the school to close this week.
The school was closed Friday when the break occurred at 9 a.m., but teachers were in the building for a professional development day and were able to alert Director Of Operations Chris Kennedy. Water gushed from the broken pipe in the kitchen for roughly 20 minutes, according to Kennedy.
“The fire line, of course, is what our sprinkler system runs off of,” Kennedy said. “It broke in the kitchen, underneath a slab, so that pushed dirt and mud throughout half of the middle school. Everything north of that was completely flooded.”
Kennedy said he estimates anywhere between 60 to 70,000 gallons of water spewed into the school in that 20 minute timeframe. They first turned off the water main, but when the water kept coming, they knew the problem was the separate fire line. Before they even arrived, teachers in the building grabbed cafeteria trays and whatever else they could find and waded in, bailing water and mud out of every available door.
“Teachers were the ones that saved the building,” Kennedy said. “They had their shoes off, pants rolled up, they had brooms, mops, cake pans, anything they could get their hands on. When I got there, the back part of the middle school had about 3 inches of water on the floor.”
Today, the building is full of 268 industrial fans, which help cut down on humidity inside the building. Air-scrubbers filter the air constantly to prevent mold from getting its hooks into the building. Most of the mud and gravel is gone, but clean-up crews still have a long way to go. The gymnasium’s floor is visibly warped where water gathered under the floorboards, with conspicuous peaks and valleys.
“The gym is a skatepark now,” Kennedy joked. “This is a big job. We had to call in a professional water mitigation crew out of the Edmond and Oklahoma City area. Right now, we can’t do any more until we get the gym floor out. We still have 11,000 gallons (of water) under it.”
Regardless of the progress they make, the school can’t reopen until the fire sprinkler system is back up and running. Kennedy said work on that system will begin Wednesday. Assistant Superintendent Jill Day said the school has tentative plans to restart classes next week. Fifth and sixth graders are already scheduled to be at an environmental summer camp next week. If the fire system is repaired, seventh and eighth graders will have classes in the non-flooded half of the building.
“We have had community people step up, the Chamber is working to find field trips and activities, so we have things for them to do,” Day said. “Friday, school will be in session. That’s our plan, but it’s all still tentative until we get the final word.”
Day said the administration has no plans to close the middle school early for summer.