By MADDY VITALE
When temperatures plummeted over Christmas, pipes froze. They froze at businesses. They froze at houses. And in Ocean City, they also froze at the High School.
One of those pipes broke Christmas night, sending water pouring into several areas of the school and causing damage, officials confirmed Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, on Christmas night we had a pipe that burst in the high school. We took on water in the auxiliary gym, auditorium and weight room, and we had a slight amount of water in the main gym,” School Business Administrator Tim Kelley said in an interview Wednesday. “It was called in about 8:30 p.m. or so in the evening.”
Kelley noted that the extent of the damage at the school at 501 Atlantic Ave. is still being assessed. The district is working with its insurance company for the cost of damages.
An assessment of the main gym is being done to determine if there are any issues with its use for games and practices.
At this time, no sports will be played in the main gym. A potential alterative site for games and other activities will be at the gym in the Ocean City Intermediate School, which is located at 1801 Bay Ave., Kelley said.
First Night, the family-friendly celebration offering activities and entertainment throughout the city New Year’s Eve, moved some of its events from the High School to the Intermediate School due to the damage.
Kelley said that while the incident is unfortunate, it was lucky that students are still on winter break until Tuesday, Jan. 3, so the district had some time to do the cleanup without any interruptions in the school day.
“At this point, we will have to assess what is and what isn’t available,” he said of the use of the facilities. “We don’t anticipate any disruption to the school schedule at all.”
He also said that the district is grateful for the speedy response by members of the custodial staff and maintenance department, who came in on Christmas night to do the initial cleanup. He said they are also grateful to the Fire Department and Mayor Jay Gillian.
“I want to express our complete appreciation and thanks for our maintenance and custodial staff who had to respond to the building on Christmas night and to the Fire Department,” Kelley said. “When I arrived, the custodial staff and the Fire Department were there doing the initial cleanup. They went above and beyond, and we are very thankful for their dedication.”
He noted that on behalf of the city, Gillian “offered to provide any assistance we need in the cleanup process.”
“The mayor offered any resources we needed to get us through,” Kelley said. “We are fortunate to have a close relationship with the city.”
The High School was built in 2002 and opened in 2004.