Flood damage at Owen D. Young School could top $2 million


VAN HORNESVILLE, N.Y. (WKTV) - Friday's flood waters caused significant damage to the Owen D. Young School in Van Hornesville.

The stream that runs along the property was raging on Friday, deteriorating part of the foundation of the school.

The first floor of the school was filled with several inches of water. The gym floor was badly damaged and may need to be replaced. Several other things that were on the ground were also damaged including furniture, cabinets, shelfing units, computers, electronic keyboards and some school records.

"Inside the building depending on where you are there might've been 4 to 6 maybe 8 inches of water in the gym, in the music room, technology, art and some of the other classrooms in the lower wing," said Jim King of K+K Architects.

Experts spent the weekend assessing the damage.

"The stream was over its bank 8 to 10 feet which put the water 3 or 4 feet up the wall of the gym," said Jim King of K+K Architects. " The initial concern was it has undermined the foundation of the gymnasium in that corner. Fortunately the gym is on a steel piles that go quite deep into the ground so even though it had exposed the pile caps and beams and eroded some of the earth below the floor slab in the gym it was not a structural issue at least at the moment so that needs to be repaired and filled with a concrete fill to stop any further erosion."

On Monday night the Board of Education voted to declare this situation an emergency, which allows the school to dip into funds to start the recovery process.

The school did not have flood insurance, only a flood rider which only amounts to about $15,000. So far the damages look like they could be as high as $2 million.

There are still some costs that are unknown to the district. Eventually the stream that runs behind the school will have to be moved back to it's original location before the flooding. Right now the streams path has moved significantly closer to the school.

Not only was the main school building damaged, the building across the street was as well. That building houses the pre-k and the district office and is also the principal's home.

"There was about 4 to 5 feet of water in the basement, which was the water coming off the hill," said King. They've got some environmental issues to clean up there because they had a little bt of oil from the oil tank servicing the boiler that spilled so they've got to clean that up. They had some records damaged and some other things that were in the crawl space of the basement."

The biggest unknown right now is the septic system. Experts have yet to assess that damage.

"It appeared that parts of some of their leach fields were compromised when the stream bank was eroded," said King. "We've got some engineers coming down to inspect that later this week and once we know that we'll have a better idea and hopefully we'll be able to say to them -yes we can get you back in with the help of the contractors for September."

It is likely that the gym floor will have to be replaced, and the foundation will have to be fixed as well. School officials are working with the State Department of Education to expedite the process to ensure the school will be ready to open on time.

So how are all of these repairs going to be paid for?

"Right now the district with their financial advisors are exploring all opportunities. The state aid is around 87 percent which would make the local share about 13 percent...grants and FEMA money will help out," said King.

Superintendent James Piccola says the community is really stepping up to help out during this situation and despite the damage the school is still serving as a Red Cross location for people in need.

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