Catholic School Division forges ahead after damage to St. Mary High School in June flash flood

Daily Herald File Photo Last year's Upstage Productions presentation of The Play That Goes Wrong was the last production before the Ecole St. Mary drama productions had to move this year because of a flash flood in June.

The Prince Albert Catholic School Division says student learning will not be negatively impacted after a flash flood in June caused water damage in two of their schools.

Ecole St Mary High School and St. Francis School were both damaged during the flood, with St. Mary being the most extensive. The music/band room, daycare, and lecture theatre all needed repairs. Education director Lorel Trumier said they’ve made significant progress over the summer.

“I think the key message is we won’t have a disruption to instructional services,” Trumier said. “It’s the daycare that will be on hold until the repair can be done. There won’t be an impact to students at the high school per say in terms of their instruction or timetabling or anything like that. It won’t impact that. We’re just going to do it in different room assignments.”

Work crews began clearing the damaged areas in St. Mary the same day the flood occurred, and work has continued throughout the summer. The Insurance adjuster and school administration have been working on plans for reclamation in the three areas.

The division has accommodations for instructional areas and procedures for the impacted educational spaces. That includes moving the fall play performed by Upstage Productions into the E.A. Rawlinson Centre. The drama group will have to rehearse in one of the school’s larger rooms during the first half of the year.

“There will be a change in how we do it, but we’ll still be aiming to do the great things that we can with kids,” Trumier said. “(Drama) teacher Jason Van Otterloo and (band) teacher Julie Abbs are going to work and accommodate the pieces there as we go.”

Trumier told the board that the flood happened the night before Ecole St. Mary graduation, which fortunately takes place at the Art Hauser Centre. St. Mary is located in one of the lowest areas in the city in the West Flat and the drainage system could not sustain the water. The carpet, stage and electronics all have to be replaced in the Lecture Theatre.

In the Music Room the division is renting some instruments until replacements arrive. Any performances will be at the EA Rawlinson Centre. Instruments and music sheets were also damaged in the Music Room.

Trumier credited the insurance adjuster for their responsive work.

The division initially engaged First General Insurance but because of the extensive damage in Prince Albert and the scope of the project the division is instead working with Saskatoon Fire and Flood.

“Our regular contractor wasn’t able to do it just because of the need here in Prince Albert,” Trumier explained. “They attended to the St. Francis (situation), but did not attend to St Mary. We brought another group in to do St. Mary.”

The Daycare is completely demolished and is not going to be ready to open for the new school year but contingency plans are in place for those affected.

Trumier said work crews did attempt to pump water as quickly as possible while it was coming down the steps of the Lecture Theatre.

Meanwhile at St. Francis, the gym and mechanical room were damaged by flooding. St. Francis had a new gym floor installed in 2019, with a new floor is being installed in September. The drainage around the school was ineffective when a catch basin plugged and the lowest points of the school were flooded. The mechanical room repairs have already begun.

As with St. Mary, Trumier stressed that the damage will not disrupt learning at St. Francis.

“We’ll be working to make sure that the students have every opportunity that they had in a regular year, just that those two pieces will not be available for at least the first few months of the school year,” she said.

Trumier said that they expect the repairs to be done by December.