School Districts Dealing With Broken Water Pipes, Fried Computer Servers and Mold Concerns

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Schools across North Texas are dealing with the same problems that many peoples' homes are: buildings went without power and pipes are broken. Now that the power is back on in many areas, schools are trying to figure out just how bad the damage truly is.

Tractor-trailers rolled to Harpool Middle School in Denton ISD carrying massive dehumidifiers. The district is using them to dry out the building after two inches of water spread through 120,000 square feet of space.

"It’s not just water on the ground, it’s technology and computers, and teachers' set up and materials that we deliver in instruction," Denton ISD Superintendent Jamie Wilson said. "It was the bottom floor and the fire suppression went off and before we could get there to turn it off we were knee-deep."

Wilson said several schools were being cleaned up, but Harpool would likely be moved to remote learning or to upper floors through spring break.

Schools across the area are trying to clean up, eager to get students learning again. They’ve already lost so much this school year and the hits just keep coming.

"It’s caused us to be flexible and that’s the nice way to say it," Grand Prairie ISD spokesperson Sam Buchmeyer said.

He said technology crews were working to try to make sure computer systems and servers were back up and running after the power kept getting shut on and off -- not ideal for computer equipment.

More than 20 schools in Arlington ISD, including Sam Houston High School were dealing with repairs.

"Some are minor and some are more significant," Arlington ISD Superintendent Marcello Cavazos said.

Heritage Middle School in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD had 15 classrooms flooded and sheetrock needed to be replaced. Several schools in that district are also dealing with a Spectrum internet and phone outage which has taken away control of the HVAC system, internet, phones and security system.

Fort Worth ISD has closed school Monday and Tuesday of next week while it cleans up. Frisco ISD said it wouldn't be ready for instruction next week.

Northwest ISD had various schools still trying to get water out.

"Some classrooms may have cosmetic damage due to the efforts our teams have taken to dry out any flooded areas, but we see the light at the end of the tunnel," Northwest ISD Communications Specialist Arena Blake said.

School leaders said they have to make sure the schools are completely dry to protect students and staff from mold concerns.

Large dehumidifiers were running outside Harpool Middle Friday.

"We had a few issues, yes but we’ve been able to hop right on them anything that was an issue we’ve been able to fix," Irving ISD spokesperson Nicole Mansell said.

Irving ISD thought it was in the clear Friday morning, but had pipes break through the day Friday and had to reevaluate whether it would open.

A Plano ISD spokesperson said 33 campuses and four other district facilities were impacted by the weather and related power outages. Crews are assessing needs at each location to determine next steps.

Check with local schools district throughout the weekend as pipes can thaw and burst at any point in time.

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