Food donations destroyed in school flood

SEDRO-WOOLLEY, Wash. -- Custodians uncovered a wet mess Monday morning when they arrived at Cascade Middle School in Sedro-Woolley.

"Every classroom flooded, you've got ceiling tile that came down above us, the passage into the hallways is blocked with just material on the ground," said principal Scott McPhee.

Before startled staff entered the building, McPhee called teachers at home warning them that classrooms needed to be juggled, the band and choir needed to temporarily move to the gym.

In a race to beat mold, 60 carpet fans and 14 dehumidifiers are now drying out the drenched school. McPhee says a pipe burst sending a river of water flowing through hallways and into classrooms, trashing property in its path.

Water destroyed a new school copier, computers that were resting on the floor, and a lot of textbooks. Damage estimates are still not known.

One of the most disheartening losses was 200 pounds of food students had collected for needy families for the holidays. They put up fliers, made morning announcements, and worked for weeks to rally classmates into asking their families to fill grocery bags they could bring to school.

"We're back to zero," said 8th grader Lafe Martinson. Student Amberley Jennings says it was like 3 to 5 inches of water. "Hearing that everything was destroyed made me feel like wow, all that hard work kinda gone down the drain."

The water may have been running up to 36 hours before discovered. That was enough time to soak cereal boxes and wash the labels right off the canned goods.

"You couldn't give it to anybody," said McPhee. "And we've got 2 weeks before the Christmas holiday and we promised 15 families in the community we're gonna feed them."

The KOMO Problem Solvers pulled up to the middle school with bags jammed full of food and replaced the 200 pounds of lost goods and then some.

"I'm pretty sure that's more than we collected," said grateful 8th grader Sophie Stewart. The kids are having a school dance this week and encouraging students to bring canned goods in exchange for raffle tickets and a chance to win a prize. The school has received hundreds of pounds worth of donations since the broken pipe and several pledges of cash. Even the plumbers fixing the mess are donating food.