DHS tech office floods after pipe leakage


When students walked in for the first day of school on August 22nd, the halls of DHS were clean and orderly. The new gym and pool were up and running, and the halls were well-maintained. It was almost impossible to tell that a massive flood had covered parts of the library, F hall, and most of E hall only two weeks prior.

At about 8:40 am on August 8th, a pipe connected to the school-wide sprinkler system burst in the tech office break room, flooding the tech office, library, along with E and F hall with black, foul smelling water.

“We were probably under 4 to 6 inches of water,” said Maureen Darnaby, technology and multimedia manager. She was the first to report the flood.

“I was sitting there and I heard what I thought was water running. I thought, oh, they must be testing the system. And then after about five seconds I thought, no, that’s not right,” she recalled.

Darnaby stepped out of her office to investigate, and found water rushing out from under the door connecting the tech office to the small kitchenette. She and a colleague then proceeded to grab boxes of sensitive equipment that were resting on the floor and set them onto a table above the water. Shortly after, she contacted maintenance on her radio.

“Maintenance was phenomenal,” Darnaby said. “As I was coming down the hallway, they were running in the opposite direction.”

William Knesley, DHS’ building manager, says that the full maintenance staff was working to stop the flooding and keep it from spreading any further. According to Knesley, it took about 20 minutes to get the water to stop running, and even longer to clean up all the spillage on the floor.

Knesley estimates that about 1000 gallons of water poured out of the broken pipe, at about 60 pounds of pressure. The water had been in the pipes for so long that it had become black and retained an unpleasant smell.

According to assistant principal Ken Williams, the maintenance staff removed the majority of the water quickly and efficiently, and with the help of some employees from the administration office, moved the furniture so that none of it was damaged. Williams, who oversees the building and grounds at DHS, said the area was then sealed off for nine days, and a dehumidifier was set up to get rid of any excess moisture.

“Whenever you have a flood, it’s just so important that you clean up as fast as you can,” Williams explained.

He went on to say that although no important equipment was lost thanks to the quick reactions of the staff, the water damaged many parts of the new facilities that had been redone last year. Thankfully, because the renovations were fairly recent, much of the cost was covered by insurance and the construction firm who had first helped to renovate the space. Disaster Restoration, a group employed by the construction firm, came in later to do tests to measure the extent of the damage and to be sure there were no health or safety concerns.

Most of the repairs have already been completed. About a foot of the drywall in the tech office, media room, and library has been replaced, and orders for new cabinets and carpeting have been made. There have been no concerns about any possible health hazards since any area affected by the flood has been sanitized.

Those who worked the tech office and other previously flooded areas were relocated from the 8th until 17th of August, when they were given the go-ahead to move back in. But, it’s clear that things could have been much worse.

“It’s our maintenance staff that had done a heroic job,” Williams concluded. “They were amazing. And they stopped what could have been a pretty significant amount of damage.”