Monsoon microburst rips roof from Huachuca City Elementary School
Reporter: Valerie Cavazos
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- The Monsoon storm was brutal. Staff who first arrived to Huachuca City Elementary school found half a ripped roof, soaked ceilings and flooded floors filled with floating textbooks after a monsoon storm swept through the area late Tuesday night.
Superintendent Karl Uterhardt described the damage in building D as devastating. "I've never seen the results of a microburst. I've never seen that before, well, until today," he said.
Soggy ceiling tiles covered the floor of 4th grade teacher Joy Tattrie's classroom. KGUN9 reporter Valerie Cavazos asked her what she thought when she walked in. "I was shocked, but it happens and we have the kids and no one got hurt."
School principal Tom Yarborough said it could have been much worse. "If this would have happened in the day we certainly would have had injuries. There's too much damage. Half of our roof was laying in the park a hundred yards away," he said.
The air conditiioning units on the roof were damaged. A large piece of wood pierced one of them. Gas lines were torn and electrical wires were exposed. The water saturated some of the computers. Three of the 6 classroom quickly flooded.
"The sun came up and we had textbooks floating. I mean literally," said Yarborough, "Water's come through straight through the roof. Soaked the ceiling tiles. They've fallen. The carpets are saturated in three rooms. Most likely the walls have water in them too."
Large fans were brought in to air out the three damp classrooms. Three adjacent rooms escaped the wrath of the storm because the roof remained in tact. 4th grade teacher Angela Brown described the damage in her classroom, "We had some leaks in the ceiling and we had carpets dry."
The superintendent said that it would take 1 to 2 months to completely repair the building. The damage is estimated at $200,000 to $300,000, which will be covered by the school's insurance.
Principal Tom Yarborough and his staff didn't waste any time moving what could be saved into other classrooms. "So we've moved all of our teachers out of this building and we doubled up some places and a couple in a classroom. And we're going to fit all these kids elsewhere in the school," he said.
Superintendent Uterhardt said, "They moved everything in about 3 hours. It was pretty much amazing considering it was six full classrooms." But it wasn't just school staff that pitched in to clean up the mess and prepare classrooms for the displaced student. "We had parents come to the school after they heard the school closed. Parents helped move stuff. It was amazing." said an 8th grade teacher. Staff said the community came out to help any way the could. Nearby fast-food restaurant donated food while many crews worked to make sure the school could continue to operate.
"Those types of things bring people together. We're going to open the school tomorrow and we're going to teach kids," said Yarborough.