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News / Clark County News

Winter storms leave $250,000 in damage at Camas schools

Skyridge Middle took brunt of impact due to burst pipes

By Kelly Moyer, Camas-Washougal Post-Record
Published: January 27, 2024, 6:05am
2 Photos
A winter storm that hit over the three-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend caused pipes to freeze and burst inside Skyridge Middle School in Camas. Camas school leaders said damage throughout the district will cost at least $250,000 to repair.
A winter storm that hit over the three-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend caused pipes to freeze and burst inside Skyridge Middle School in Camas. Camas school leaders said damage throughout the district will cost at least $250,000 to repair. (Provided photos) (Provided photo) Photo Gallery

CAMAS — Camas schools suffered at least $250,000 in damage during the winter storms that blanketed the region over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

Superintendent John Anzalone said the biggest loss was at Skyridge Middle School, where frozen pipes burst early Jan. 14, leaking about 3,200 gallons of water that seeped into a lot of classrooms.

District Operations Supervisor Randy Barnes said 22 classrooms and the library were damaged by the leaks, which stemmed from an upstairs fire-sprinkler system and an HVAC system in the school library.

Barnes said the fire department and maintenance crews responded to the larger, upstairs leak within 30 minutes; maintenance staff responded to the library leak “very quickly, within minutes.”

The leak in the library damaged ceiling tiles and carpeting, but spared most of the books, Anzalone said.

District administrators believe the pipes were not adequately insulated when the 28-year-old, 112,133-square-foot middle school was built.

“There wasn’t much we could have done,” Anzalone said. “The insulation was a bit light around some of those pipes.”

The superintendent dispelled rumors that the school district had turned off the heat at Skyridge, 5220 N.W. Parker St.

“The heat was never turned off … We would not have turned the heat off because we were expecting kids to be back on Tuesday,” Anzalone said.

Frozen pipes also led to a water leak in Prune Hill Elementary’s gymnasium and cafeteria.

“A neighbor reported that and (maintenance staff) got over there almost immediately,” Anzalone said.

Anzalone said there are a couple teachers at Skyridge who will be displaced from their classrooms, but district administrators hope to reopen those classrooms as soon as possible.

Barnes said the two unusable classrooms are lab-style rooms with damaged countertops that will need to be removed and replaced.

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Barnes said the extremely cold temperatures that accompanied the storms likely contributed to the unusual number of burst pipes and water leaks.

Anzalone estimated that the storms caused at least $250,000 in damages, but said that figure could increase. He added that the school district is insured.

“I don’t know if any school was totally unscathed,” Anzalone said. “That was a lot of water and ice.”

The superintendent praised the district’s maintenance workers and building administrators for their handling of the storm damage.

“People put in a lot of hours, off the clock,” Anzalone said. “We also reached out to (Paul Davis Restoration) and they had a team out there almost immediately and extracted water from the carpets at Skyridge. Our principals have been wonderful. They were very, very conscientious of what was going on.”

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