Salem Middle School Basement Flooded in Five Minutes

Salem Middle School Basement Flooded in Five Minutes

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These security images show flooding water at the Salem Middle School

Last Friday night, rain water was pouring into the Salem Middle School so fast, the entire basement filled with water in approximately four minutes. 

School board members met in a special meeting at 5p and decided to close the school for a day on Monday to continue to move forward with repairs and get the school ready for students. 

Jennifer Lawyer, Dean of the middle school, put together a time line from security footage. 

“We had a call from the security company letting us know the pumps were running between 5 and 5:20p,” said Lawyer. “At that time they were operating properly. At around 6:09, they went off again.”

“The video is only about five minutes because everything happened in five minutes,” Lawyer said, between 6:09 and 6:16p. 

Lawyer detailed three camera views — the north dock area, the parking lot by the new gym and another camera that came on in the basement at 6:10p and showed the room being flooded over the next six minutes until it lost power and shut off. 

The water flowed across the parking lot, which was fed from streaming water across the field to the west of the Middle School, across North Harrison Street and over the top and through the retaining wall. 

The water sped across the parking lot and along the lower ramp of the basement up to the basement door and under the door. 

“It was filling pretty fast,” said Lawyer. “You’ll see a second surge come through when the retaining wall broke.”

At that point, the room filled with about 12-15 feet of water and also flooded the stairwell back towards the dock of the school. 

The only camera lost was the one in the basement became submerged. 

Board President Mark Abbott outlined the damage at the school.

JD Wade Swift who is in charge of the pool at the middle school said flood water came into the pool along with debris through the drain. 

“We’ve cleaned that up and the robots are in the pool cleaning that up,” he said. “We lost chemicals that were stored in the basement. But we’ll be getting more tomorrow.”

The basement area contained classrooms, storage, electrical room, an elevator and restroom. Don Burton’s classroom was ruined along with many other items in the basement. 

The HVAC system can be salvaged but according Jason Wilson, a rep from ServPro, it will be a week or so before it can be worked on. 

The focus has been removing the damaged debris from the flooded rooms. 

“Very thankful for everyone who jumped in to try and save things,” said Scott Martin, head janitor at the middle school. 

Additional damage was at the girls’ softball field. A storage building there was damaged along with the fence around the field. 

The practice football field was damaged, along with equipment and storage. 

The high school baseball field had damage from flooded storage areas and some minor damage to the field. 

The high school soccer field was damaged along with parts of the walking trail, which Superintended DL Reed said was the City of Salem’s responsibility. 

There was water damage at the school’s bus shed along with damage to the parking lot pavement. 

Wilson said ServPro has been working over the past 48 hours to to remove debris from the basement area. Water has been pumped out and now the work of drying and disinfecting has begun to remove mold and allergens. 

The only safety concerns the board had was with air quality. The HVAC system will be sealed so allergens will not spread from that room into the rest of the school. 

As far as transportation to the area, most of the outlying areas in the county weren’t affected with flooding. Those areas that were, have been cleaned up. 

As far as students living along High Street, Reed said “If your road has power lines still down, your student will be excused if they cannot meet the driver at the end of the street.”

“We will pick up students who live on blocked area of High Street on Main Street,” said Reed. “We will tell drivers to watch for kids at each intersection.”

Additionally, the middle school choir concert for Monday night has been cancelled.