Brookfield school Superintendent Velina Jo Taylor holds a steel water pipe connector called an elbow with a gaping hole where water blew out the exterior bend.
“Shows you how strong frozen water is,” she said, standing in the hallway outside one of the Brookfield Elementary School bathrooms on Feb. 4.
School was canceled Feb. 4 after the elbow blew out, the second of two water events that flooded parts of the school. Both occurred Feb. 2 – at about 4:30 a.m. in the middle school and 12 hours later in the elementary school.
A coupling in water pipes in the middle school gave way, she said.
Both joints were in vaulted ceilings, but the elementary school elbow was above the insulation, she said. It sprayed up and out, then collected on top of insulation and drywall.
Brookfield firefighters poked into the ceiling drywall and insulation to try to assess the extent of the water damage in the elementary school.
“The one poor guy, I felt so bad, he just got drenched,” Taylor said. “He was poking around through the second layer of drywall.”
Taylor said she doesn’t know why Feb. 2 was different from previous freezing days in the building’s seven years.
“We’ve had cold snaps before and it’s never been an issue,” she said.
The high school wing has the same structural design as the elementary and middle schools.
“We cut a hole in the wall to see if it was OK,” she said.
It appeared that it was OK.
“I’m still holding my breath,” Taylor said.
An employee of Disaster Recovery Services estimated the middle school damage at $20,000, and Taylor said she would think the elementary damage is about equal. An insurance adjuster had not yet been to the school, but one was to come, she said.
“The insurance company has been wonderful,” she said. “They told us, whatever it takes, to get it fixed.”
The school has a deductible, which Taylor said she thought was $2,000.
“We will be filing a claim,” she said.
Officials plan to have heat wrap installed on water pipes in all three schools in hopes that the water in them will not freeze and Feb. 2’s issues will be averted in the future.