More than 1,000 library books and course materials were ruined and six classrooms were damaged at the Petitcodiac Regional School after a frozen water pipe burst in the ceiling of the school last Thursday night.
The leak, however, did not trip the external alarm system.
“One of the main lines broke and it emptied the whole system. There are eight tanks and each tank contains 1,000 gallons of water,” said the school’s principal, Ewen Cameron.
Cameron said the leak wasn’t discovered until Friday morning by janitorial staff and only after three middle school and three high school classrooms at the community’s only school had been inundated with 8,000 gallons of sprinkler water.
“They are going to have to remove walls and chalkboards and things like that” said Cameron.
It was a heartbreaking day for librarian Donna Watson, who was forced to throw out 1,128 books.
According to the Petitcodiac fire chief, the damage would not have been nearly as severe if the school’s external alarm system had functioned properly following the pipe leak.
“What we have done in the past is shut those tanks off so no water feeds into the school,” he said.
Heather Stordy, the acting community engagement coordinator for Anglophone East School District, said in an email that an investigation was conducted.
“It was determined the school went into full alarm mode internally, when the tanks started to empty. According to the alarm company, the alarm signal was not communicated externally as there was a modem failure. This event happened during a time when the school was empty,” she said.
Teacher Michel Thibodeau’s classroom suffered the most damage
“I was pretty devastated,” he said.
He said four inches of water spilled into his classroom, out into the hall and seeped into the classrooms below. The water soaked desks, walls, ceiling and floors, as well as ruined his course materials.
“I feel bad for the kids when they are going to come back,” said Thidobeau.
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It’s still unclear when students will be able to return to class. Cameron is hoping the school will be reopened later this week, after they arrange for temporary classrooms.
But he said the six classrooms are out of commission and will be for several weeks.
Cameron said the alarm had be tested and is not working properly, but will be when students do return to class.
“The system is recharged right now and operating,” he said.
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