Around 7 p.m. on July 3, a severe lightning storm caused a power outage in the GDS high school, which resulted in water flooding both the L1 and L2 levels of the building.
Activities that usually take place in the gym and dance studio have been relocated until further notice. PE classes are being held in the weight room and on the field. The only indoor fall sport is volleyball, so varsity and junior-varsity volleyball teams are holding games and practices in the LMS gym. High school dance and acting teacher Maria Watson currently holds her classes in the black box.
According to Head of Maintenance Kenny Miluk, the power outage caused the sump pumps—which empty rain water from a basin in the school basement—to shut down. This made the basin overflow and eventually spill out onto the L1 and L2 floors.
Maintenance staffer David Collar checked on the building on July 4 and notified Miluk of the flood. “He calls me up quarter to five and he goes, ‘Kenny, we got a flood in the basement,’” Miluk said.
Miluk then sent several members of the GDS maintenance staff to clean up approximately three inches of water on the L2 floor. Shortly after the arrival of the GDS maintenance staffers, employees from a company called First Onsite arrived to assist in the removal of the water. According to Miluk, First Onsite employees sucked the water up and “tried to save the floors, but they couldn’t save the floors because there was too much water damage.”
Director of Operations and Innovation Tim Lyons sent an email on July 6 to faculty and staff notifying them of the flood and explaining what had happened.
L1 and the girls’ and boys’ locker rooms on L2 suffered minimal damage, as the flooring material is durable enough to withstand significant amounts of water. On the rest of L2, however, the gym and the dance studio suffered greatly because their flooring is made of wood with sub-floor spring technology to be less damaging to people’s joints. According to Athletic Director David Gillespie, the sporting equipment in the gym was not damaged because it is stored on shelves.
Repairs to the gym and dance studio flooring began on August 7 by A & L Floors, a company that has been working for GDS for nearly 30 years, Miluk said. In order to ensure that the floor could sustain future activity, it had to be completely replaced. Repairs are expected to be finished by September 25.
Junior Shiraz Beyouncef said that during preseason, the varsity and junior-varsity volleyball teams shared the LMS gym. “It has really affected us because we usually practice on two courts, and we’ve been practicing on one,” she said. She added that it’s a pain to walk from the high school all the way down to the LMS gym.
Negotiations are currently underway with the school’s insurance company, Hartford. Lyons said that GDS has building insurance, which includes flood insurance. However, Miluk said that the school still has to pay a large amount of money. Chief Financial Officer Kathy Chery could not be reached for comment.
Lyons said that inspections happen annually, but after the flood, the sump pumps and all mechanical structures related to them were specially inspected. “Inspections will continue to happen, and those will mitigate most of the risk from this kind of thing happening,” he said. Miluk said he hopes the sump pump malfunction “doesn’t happen again on my watch.”
“General building maintenance is the way you mitigate risk for these things,” Lyons said. “The proximity of the school to the groundwater is just a geological fact, so we pay special attention to it.”