Edgewood Highland students relocated
Edgewood Highland Elementary students and staff needed to find a new home-away-from-home after a water main break caused a flood of four feet at one point last Wednesday, forcing the students to evacuate. They’ve now got one in the former school on Norwood Avenue, where the elementary students and their staff will relocate to starting Thursday, Jan. 11.
The Sanders program, which usually runs out of the Norwood Avenue building, will relocate to Cranston West.
There is currently no word on how long the elementary school will be shut down.
Superintendent Jeannine Nota said in a press conference Tuesday that 231 students were evacuated Jan. 3 to Park View Middle School because of the flood. At least two classrooms in Edgewood Highland will need to be completely reconstructed.
It all began when, according to Ray Votto, Chief Operating Officer of Cranston Schools, a pipe burst that was connected to the fire hydrant in front of the school sending water cascading into the school.
Fire Chief William McKenna added that it was a water main break in the street itself.
“It just happened to be that that section of the school building is below street elevation,” he said in a phone interview. “So it pooled at the side of the building. It’s due to the cold weather.”
There is a hill that goes down into the basement area of the school, so once the water started flowing it went directly into the classrooms in the lower level of Edgewood Highland. The kids were then evacuated, the Superintendent said, and then the snow came, forcing school to be closed for Thursday and Friday and for evaluation of the situation to be interrupted until Friday.
On Friday, Votto said the school department went to look at the damage, but no cost estimates were yet had. The insurance company, Rhode Island Trust, was notified, and cleanup companies that the school uses, including Clean Care, have been at the school since cleaning out the flooding, despite the piles of snow that still lie outside the building.
Director of Plant Operations Ed Collins said in a phone interview that the Trust is identifying losses in the school, but the process of determining the damages is ongoing.
“When things like this happen, the situation changes daily because you’ll find more things when you go into classrooms,” he said. “A lot of the damage water does is not totally visible.”
He also said that they’ll have a much better idea of the damages – and what needs to be done by cleaning companies – by the end of this week. He’s hopeful, as is Superintendent Nota, that the school can be back open within the month of January.
Some of those damages, as Nota said, include the destruction of two classrooms. It also includes damage to bookcases, walls, and all the school materials inside the classrooms.
As for combating this issue moving forward, Votto said that it’s especially tough because of how old the school buildings are.
“We do have forethought about these things,” he said. “But we know our buildings are old, and the pipes are just as old as the buildings.”
He added that during the cold winter months the school department sends eight or nine HVAC workers out to their schools and do a walk through on the weekends.
“There’s overtime cost involved, but it’s a precaution that’s money well-spent,” Votto said.
He said that they are constantly monitoring our buildings, whether through those walk-throughs or by monitoring the heat online.
Despite that, he did say that it the temperature gets as cold as it did in recent days, the potential is there for something like this to happen again.
The weather forecast for the coming week looks fine, but the cold could rear its ugly head at any point this winter. But Superintendent Nota hopes that this is the only time they’ll have to do something as drastic as relocating 231 students – and their staff.
“It’s an extremely stressful situation, especially for an elementary school,” she said. “It is a challenge and it’s emotionally draining.”