Smyth County

Frozen water pipes cause problems for Smyth County school

Chilhowie water problems

SMYTH COUNTY, Va. - One Smyth County School will be closed Thursday as crews clean up a mess caused by cold weather. Click here to view photos.

The bone-chilling temperatures are starting to leave the Tri-Cities, and it's leaving Chilhowie Elementary School with a big mess. "The building envelope has some gaps in it where air could get in and through those strong westerly winds we've had over the last few days, and the extreme cold that's what caused the situation," says Smyth County Schools Superintendent Mike Robinson.  

Robinson tells us around 3:00 Wednesday morning a custodian found two water lines had burst, causing water to go everywhere. "One in the center part of the building with water lines and the sprinkler line, all that we have in a very small section. And then down in one of our second grade classrooms a line burst," he said.

There is one classroom that had the most water damage -- right now they're using fans to dry out the room, but the good news is pretty much all of the instructional material wasn't damaged. "We may have a couple computers that are damaged. Most of the damage is to ceiling tiles, to the water lines themselves, and to floor tile," adds Robinson.

Robinson tells us crews have been busy mopping up water, drying out classrooms, and trying to replace the pipes. "Any ceiling tiles that have fallen down, wet rugs, that type of thing. That part we already accomplished this morning. We're now trying to dry a deeper dry of the building," he said.

We learned the broken water lines and the bitterly cold temperatures have the school system looking at any changes they can make to the building to keep this from happening again. "We'll be taking a look at the building envelope, especially at the roof line area around what is the older section of this building," says Robinson.

Meanwhile, Robinson tells us they hope to finish all the repairs on Thursday.

Robinson tells us several custodians from other schools in the county were able to come help with the repairs.

He also says all Smyth County Schools will re-open Thursday except for Chilhowie Elementary.

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