Schenectady County

Flooding forces Niskayuna school to shut during emergency cleanup

An “act of God” resulted in an unexpected two-day break for students at Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Sc

An “act of God” resulted in an unexpected two-day break for students at Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha School.

Flooding resulting from Tuesday’s fast-moving storm closed the Union Street school formerly known as St. Helen’s on Wednesday and Thursday.

The school was expected to reopen today.

Principal Jennifer Chatain said Boy Scouts who were in the building Tuesday evening saw the water problem and notified their parents, who in turn called school officials and the Rev. Robert Longobucco, parish pastor.

“It could have been much worse,” Chatain said.

The ground-floor areas of the building, including hallways, bathrooms and cafeteria, were filled with about 6 inches of water, according to Chatain.

“It didn’t make it into the classrooms,” she said.

There was no damage to equipment or supplies.

Workers from PuroClean of North Chatham worked until 1 a.m. Wednesday to vacuum water out of the building. Project manager John Plasencia said they brought in dehumidifiers and air movers to get the moisture out and then cleaned and disinfected everything.

He estimated the cost of the work at between $15,000 and $25,000.

“Thank goodness we have insurance that will cover the flood damage for us. That’s a saving grace,” Chatain said.

The two missed days will be counted as snow days, according to Chatain. School officials build three snow days into their calendar.

There has been flooding at the school during rainstorms, Chatain said, but never to this degree. She attributed it to a problem with the drainage or sewer lines along Union Street. Perhaps the system couldn’t handle the amount of rain that came down in a short period of time, she said.

“It seems to flow back in,” she said.

Niskayuna water officials are coming to the school to investigate. Town Supervisor Joe Landry said officials are trying to determine the source of the problem, whether it is something internal to the school or a town problem. He said he wasn’t aware of any of issues in that area in the past.

The school changed its name following the merger of the St. Helen’s and Our Lady of Fatima parishes earlier this year.

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