Pipe burst in St. Johns, school closes
By Brandon Otte

At about 6 a.m. this morning, the school week began at St. John the Baptist Catholic School. But it wasn't the way the week should have begun.

A pipe burst in the schools fellowship area flooding much of the school and the church with water. The school will be closed Monday and Tuesday while crews work to clean up the mess.
The clean-up and restoration work will be handled by Advance Companies. Owner Larry Trapp said the process could take days or weeks.

First we have to extract all the water and dry everything out, Trapp said.Then the company will come back and see what other work needs to be done. This could range anywhere from making sure carpet and woodwork are back in their proper place to re-flooring or repainting sections of the school and church.

While the drying will take at least three days, Trapp said, the school should be able to open up again by Wednesday morning. When it does, the students will likely have to work without a library or computer lab two rooms in the lower level of the school where much of the water pooled.

The fact that the school can open again by Wednesday is good news for Principal Bonita Jungels, especially because the staff and students were preparing for an open house on Wednesday and a Guatemala Day celebration Thursday evening.

Most of the classrooms, which are on the main floor but up the stairs from most of the damage, are undamaged, Jungels said. The school may have to change its plans slightly moving the Guatemala Day carnival upstairs and keeping the open house in the classrooms but the show will go on.

Jungels said while the students would not be in school tomorrow, there will be a staff workday during which they'll discuss plans for keeping their two events and regular classes running smoothly.

The Rev. Father Timothy Yanta of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church said the next step is to just wait and see what the damage is and try to get back to normal.

The water leak began with a break in the main line of the sprinkler system. Chris Carlson of Simplex-Grinnel, the company that handles the fire sprinkler system, said he didn't know yet what caused the leak. There was a big chip off the pipe, and the coupling was loose, but he said if he had to guess as to the cause of the problem, it would be that the pipe froze an unusual occurrence considering it was indoors, but not uncommon.

I've seen pipes freeze much farther in buildings before, Carlson said.

But, he said, there are a number of different possibilities as to what could have cause the leak.

The water damage to the school and the church was extensive. Water pooled in the front entryway and fellowship area, damaging the walls and ceiling of that room. It also ran into the main church sanctuary, flooding the front section of the church all the way to the other wall. From there, it leaked into the ceiling of the kitchen area and lunchroom.

Water also ran down the steps into the schools lower level, damaging the carpet in the main hallway, in the computer lab, and in the library, which also saw water leaking through the ceiling.

How extensive that damage will be, Trapp said, is a mystery until the water is removed and the school and church dry out.

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