DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — In a week defined by winter weather, some of the impacts of those colder temperatures on infrastructure are being seen throughout North Alabama.
Crews have been working around the clock to repair the water damage from two pipes that burst at Decatur Middle School (DMS) earlier this week, but now a third pipe has burst.
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Officials with Decatur City Schools (DCS) say the incident caused significant water damage throughout the facility.
School leaders say security cameras alerted them about the latest water leak after a coil pipe ruptured just before 5:30 Thursday morning in a hallway near the middle school’s gymnasium.
“The coils are starting to deteriorate and as we get these extreme temperatures, the coils ruptured and that’s what’s caused this to happen,” DCS Deputy Superintendent Dwight Satterfield said. “Obviously, a timetable for the students to get back in this building is most important to our staff.”
Satterfield believes pipe exposure to the outside air, aging units and extreme weather all contributed to the multiple pipes that have burst this week.
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Water restoration and maintenance crews spent all of Thursday removing items from classrooms as they rushed to address the water damage. The flooring had to be removed to prevent the water from damaging the middle school’s gymnasium floor, which could’ve made the incident even worse.
Considering the previous two bursts, school leaders like Satterfield say this incident isn’t expected to prolong recovery efforts by no more than a day.
The deputy superintendent tells News 19 he expects damages and recovery efforts to cost DCS around one million dollars, which includes the repair and replacement of additional units throughout the middle school.
Although recovery efforts are ongoing, Satterfield says DCS’ top priority is getting children back in the classroom, the place they prefer students to learn.
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“We all agree in-person learning is the best, in-person instruction is the best, but we’re doing what we can to make sure that any learning losses are limited due to this weather,” Satterfield told News 19.
As to when DMS students can expect to be back in the classroom, a definitive timeline has not yet been set. Students across the River City have already been learning remotely due to the weather and the deputy superintendent says that will continue for DMS students through the beginning of next week.
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