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Burst pipes flood six school buildings

n Staff members are cleaning so students can return when roads clear. by Janelle Jessen | February 17, 2021 at 6:10 p.m.
Photo submitted School employees work to squeegee up water in the Siloam Springs High School on Monday.

Burst water pipes have caused flooding in six of Siloam Springs School District's academic buildings, according to Superintendent Jody Wiggins.

Unusually low temperatures over the past week have caused the pipes to freeze and then break, Wiggins said. Some buildings are worse than others, but each burst pipe has caused a tremendous amount of water to flow through certain parts of a building with varying degrees of damage, he said.

School employees are working hard to get the water cleaned up so that schools can be open for on site instruction as soon as roads are clear, Wiggins said. The district has also contracted with some private companies to help with the cleanup and demolition, he said.

The high school was the first building to be affected and had the most volume of water, Wiggins said. A sprinkler line burst above the art wing hallway on Monday, flooding all of the spaces along the hallway, the attendance offices, the athletic director's office, the assistant athletic director's office, the lobby, the school resource officer's office, the main restrooms, much of the cafeteria and parts of the library.

The middle school was the next building to be impacted when an overhead water line burst, flooding a few classrooms and a hallway on the northeast corner of the building.

Northside Elementary School, intermediate school, Allen Elementary School and Southside Elementary School all experienced burst pipes on Wednesday, Wiggins said.

All of the pipes were either on outside walls or ceilings and Wiggins speculated that the pipes froze during the extreme cold on Monday and Tuesday and then melted and began leaking when temperatures increased on Wednesday.

At the intermediate school, a pipe burst over Bright Futures Siloam Springs donation room, ruining tens of thousands of dollars worth of donations, such as food, backpacks, school supplies, clothing and toys, Wiggins said. A team of approximately 20 volunteers gathered to sort through all the supplies and salvage them, he said.

Bright Futures is a nonprofit initiative that operates inside the school district to streamline school, community and business resources to meet the needs for students, according to the district website.

The water at the intermediate school also entered the main part of the building and got into the library, the computer lab and piano lab, Wiggins said.

The burst pipe at Southside Elementary School flooded the gymnasium and made the plastic tile floor float and also flooded all of the offices, restrooms and storage areas connected to the gym, as well as the cafeteria.

Wiggins said school officials are working to check if the damage will be covered by insurance. Because Bright Futures is a nonprofit, separate from the school district, it is unlikely the lost donated items will be covered, he said.

Wiggins thanked school employees for their hard work cleaning up in frigid temperatures and thanked volunteers for helping salvage Bright Futures supplies.

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