A north Scottsdale elementary school suffered $2 million worth of damage this week after storm waters poured out of a nearby wash and cascaded through the campus.
Damage from Tuesday’s downpour will force Desert Sun Elementary School, 27880 N. 64th St., to close for at least two months. The entire 465-student school will be relocated to the old Black Mountain Elementary School campus from the time school starts Thursday until September or October, said Kent Frison, assistant superintendent of operations and finance for the Cave Creek Unified School District.
Desert Sun’s administration building, library, cafeteria, computer lab and kindergarten classrooms were all untouched because they’re on high ground. But water flooded the three remaining classroom buildings, affecting 25 or 30 rooms and leaving water marks between 6 and 16 inches high on the exterior walls, said Dennis Roehler, director of facilities and construction for the district.
“The carpets are all soaked, it’s come into the walls,” Frison said. “They’re going to have to take everything out, rip everything out and rebuild it.”
Professional cleaners from East Valley Disaster Services are disinfecting metal desks and chairs and getting rid of anything porous, including carpets and soaked portions of drywall, that was touched by water, Frison said.
“It’s not like we’re having our custodians go in and wipe things down,” he added.
Cleaning crews spent the past few days scraping gunk off the campus — the mud was 9 inches deep in some places, Roehler said.
While the campus has dealt with some water leaking into classrooms in the past, the wash that bends around the school manages about 99 percent of rainfall quite well, Roehler said.
But the amount of water Tuesday was something they hadn’t seen in the school’s seven year history.
Some areas of north Scottsdale on Tuesday recorded more than 2½-inches of rain.
A security guard checked out an alarm at the school at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday and called to report the initial damage, but had to leave the campus quickly, Roehler said.
“He said, ‘There’s a two foot wall of water coming towards me, I’m getting out of here,’” Roehler said.
The security guard was OK, but the campus wasn’t — the water was so powerful that it forced open some of the doors on the campus.
A forensic civil engineer will examine the wash Monday to determine whether anything can be done to prevent another flood, Roehler said.
While preschool classes will be held in the undamaged rooms, the school’s kindergarten through fifth graders will move about seven miles to the former Black Mountain Elementary School campus at 33606 N. 64th St. while repairs are made, Frison said.
The old Black Mountain campus has been mostly empty since that school moved a year ago. Eleven classrooms are used as overflow for Cactus Shadows High School, which is next door, and Desert Sun students will move into about 25 rooms, Frison said.
Students will be able to catch buses from their neighborhood or the Desert Sun site to the new campus if parents don’t want to drive them, Frison added.
Heidi LaBlonde, who has two children at Desert Sun, said that while this isn’t the ideal way to start a new year, families seem to be getting through the situation just fine.
But even though the school and surrounding neighborhoods are used to some flooding, La Blonde said it was a shock when she first saw pictures of the damage to the school on the district’s Web site, www.ccusd93.org.
“I think everyone who’s seen those pictures have gotten a little teary eyed or emotional,” LaBlonde said. “Especially if you have kids who were there since they were kindergartners. I guess you get more emotionally attached (to the campus) than you think you do.”