Quick action prevents major damage after pipe bursts at Rock Hill school

rsouthmayd@heraldonline.comJanuary 8, 2014 

This week’s cold temperatures took their toll on one Rock Hill elementary school.

Around 4 p.m. Tuesday, when most students had already gone home for the day, a fire sprinkler outside the door to the front office began to trickle, said school secretary Kimberly Merck.

That trickle turned into a flood as the pipe burst, the fire alarms went off and water went everywhere, Merck said.

By Wednesday morning, almost everything was back to normal thanks to the quick efforts of district employees, fire crews, police and a restoration company, said Anthony Cox, associate superintendent for Rock Hill schools.

“When I was there, the carpet was already dry,” said district Interim Superintendent John Taylor on Wednesday morning.

Industrial-size fans and dehumidifiers were working to dry out the space, Cox said. There was some damage to the floors and walls, but it wasn’t extensive.

Merck said several inches of water flooded the office and some of the school’s hallways before the water flow stopped. One telephone was ruined by the water, but that was it, she said.

On Tuesday night, most of the water was squeegeed out of the front doors, where it quickly froze, so motorists Wednesday were rerouted to the bus entrance for student safety. On Wednesday morning, aside from some ice on the sidewalks, a few fans and some workers replacing ceiling tiles, the casual observer wouldn’t have known about the damage.

“It was just an amazing effort,” Merck said.

There were some students at India Hook Elementary participating in the Challenger after-school program, Merck said. They had to evacuate when the fire alarm sounded. At the time, the temperature outside was around 20 degrees. Merck said a staff member grabbed a big bin of lost-and-found items and had the children bundle up until they could go back inside.

On Wednesday morning, Cox said the pipe burst at India Hook was the only building problem the district had experienced because of the cold, but that his staff was monitoring all buildings as temperatures fluctuate this week.

Rachel Southmayd •  803-329-4072

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