A central Iowa middle school that was completely flooded by a water main break in January is fully renovated and ready to reopen on Monday.
Principal Jaimie Gargas, of GMG Secondary School in Garwin, says the January 7th incident devastated the three-story brick building, which was built in the 1920s.
“We had a very old water pipe that decided to break. It didn’t freeze or anything, it just decided it was its time,” Gargas says. “It flooded out basically one half of all the classrooms in our school and everything.”
That pipe was on the third floor. The flood happened overnight, so no one was in the school at the time, but when it was first discovered, a faculty member said there were waterfalls on the stairs, and it was raining in the hallways.
The school is finally ready to reopen to its 500 students after two full months of hard renovation work.
“We had a combination of businesses and contractors that came in to help us out with that over the past seven weeks,” Gargas says. “During that time, they’ve done everything from tearing out things that couldn’t be salvaged to installing new carpet and getting things dried out.”
A dozen classrooms, the school library, the nurse’s office, the guidance counselor’s office and several other rooms were wiped out in the flood. In the interim, Gargas says everyone made the best of a difficult situation.
“It just really shows what Iowa communities can be like,” Gargas says. “Between our faculty and the students and the parents, everyone just chipped in and did whatever they could to make this work.”
Everyone had to adapt to an every-other-day hybrid schedule and sharing the high school building with older students. Much like during the pandemic, GMG students were issued laptops to do schoolwork from home along with mobile internet hotspots to those without an internet connection.
(By Brent Wiethorn, KFJB, Marshalltown)