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Corsica community united to deal with flooded school

Clean-up at Corsica High School continues as administrators assess the damage after a ruptured water main flooded parts of the school.

The break released thousands of gallons of water into the school on the morning of Nov. 3.

Superintendent Vern DeGeest is confident the school will continue to operate as close to normal as possible until repairs are completed.

"It's been a major inconvenience, but it hasn't been anything we haven't been able to work around," DeGeest said.

The school's soggy situation began shortly after 11 a.m. on Nov. 3 when the water main running under the schools mechanical room failed. The pressure of the water flowing out of the pipe was so great it broke the concrete floor above it and came pouring out into the school.

"It wasn't a trickle, it was running water," DeGeest said.

Once the water main break was discovered by school administrators, city officials were contacted and told to shut the water off.

In the time it took the water to be turned off, the school's gym was completely flooded and three nearby classrooms had water in them.

DeGeest said the extent and total cost of the damage won't become clear until everything is cleaned and put back in place, but he hoped the school's boilers and gym floor could still be salvaged.

DeGeest described the scene at Corsica High School immediately after the flooding occurred.

"Pretty soon everybody was helping. Kids were pushing water off the gym floor and out the front door," he said. "The student body and faculty all rose to the occasion and helped matters a lot."

The break in the water main caused Corsica High School to lose both heat and running water.

In the two weeks since the flooding took place, students have been attending classes in classrooms heated by portable heaters provided by volunteers from the community.

"Our local residents and our local businesses have all responded," DeGeest said.

Despite the extent of the damage, he was thankful the incident occurred during the day when the school was populated.

"If it had happened on a weekend or late at night, it could have gone unnoticed and destroyed floors throughout the building," he said. "It was unfortunate, but if it had to be, the timing was about as good as it could be."

Students at Corsica High School missed only one day of classes because of the flooding.

Because of an athletic cooperative with Stickney School District, DeGeest said the upcoming basketball season would not be affected even if Corsica's gym is not available.

While DeGeest admitted the school still had work to do, he was sure it would be back to normal before long.

"It was devastating, but at the same time we got together and worked around it and it brought us to where we are today," he said. "When you unite and work together, great things get accomplished."