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Helena School District: Rossiter Elementary received no serious flood damage

Posted at 9:03 PM, May 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 14:54:27-04

HELENA – At the height of flooding in the Helena Valley, water covered the Rossiter Elementary School parking lot and completely surrounded the school building. Now, the campus is almost completely dry.

Helena Public Schools superintendent Jack Copps said Tuesday that district maintenance staff hasn’t found any serious damage at the school.

“There’s no seepage at all inside the building,” he said. “We’re very fortunate that it happened that way.”

Copps said that is thanks to the people who came to the school to help lay sandbags when the flooding started.

“The credit belongs to a lot of volunteers that protected the facility,” he said.

The district has talked to Lewis and Clark County leaders about how to address any public health concerns from the flooding. Copps said, so far, it appears there were no active sewage leaks around the school. He doesn’t expect the district will need to treat the campus for contaminants, but said they will be able to if that becomes necessary.

“We’re in a good situation right now,” he said. “We’re at the end of the school year, so we’ve got all summer to make sure that we bleach out the soil and everything is ready to go.”

Copps said there were reports of a sewage smell in the area, but that public health leaders said that often happens in floods.

“As the water recedes, there tends to be a smell,” he said. “As sunny days take place and as some rain may fall, that takes care of the problem.”

The district decided to keep Rossiter students out of the building through the end of the school year. They will finish off their classes at Carroll College.

Copps said there could be one positive side to the displacement, as crews will be able to start work early on planned safety and security upgrades at Rossiter. He said construction will begin in the next few weeks.

All of the Helena School District’s elementary and middle schools will receive safety and security improvements as part of the $63 million bond proposal voters approved last year.

On Tuesday afternoon, Lewis and Clark County Public Works reopened Sierra Road past Rossiter to two-way traffic. County leaders said the only remaining flood-related road closure was at the intersection of Kerr Drive and Forestvale Road.