Picture of damage done by ruptured pipe. Picture courtesy of Paul Villaiencio.

Picture of damage done by ruptured pipe. Picture courtesy of Paul Villaiencio.

By Revannah Restua @RevRCrusader

After a one-inch pipeline ruptured in the ceiling of the 300 building’s girls’ restroom before a Saturday school session on Oct. 18th, Bonita Vista High School quickly closed off the restroom and its adjoining classrooms.

“The first thing I do [on Saturdays] is open the 300 building’s girls’ restroom. . . I walked over and saw water coming out of the restroom door’s screen,” locker room attendant Paul Villavicencio said. “I opened the door and got totally soaked.”

However, Villavicencio was alarmed by the surge of water even before he could actually see the girls’ restroom.

“I could hear the water from outside [of campus]; it was so loud. I walked up to the restroom and it sounded like a jet [flying by],” Villavicencio said.

By the time the authorities discovered the incident, the impact from the gushing water completely destroyed the restroom. The ceiling collapsed, the light fixtures fell, and the restroom’s insulation spilled onto the floor. The water’s force was evident in its seep into the  classroom and teachers’ workroom next door.

“A team came [the day after the incident] to soak up all the water in the classrooms [and workroom] and got all the water out that day.” Villavicencio said. “[The construction workers] have also taken everything out. The floors of the restrooms, the walls . . . They’ve gutted it completely.”

After clearing out the building of ruined materials and fixtures, vacuuming the excess amount of water became the next priority of the matter. Once everything was absorbed and dried up, an inspection of the water damage was conducted.

“Thankfully, the water did not reach any equipment in the workroom,” Principal Bettina Batista said. “We moved the copier machine and other equipment into another area.”

In addition to the copier machine, two teachers also required relocation. The water damage and the potential of mold necessitated chemistry teacher Oscar Gracias’ and physics teacher Luis Mendoza’s move out of their science classrooms into non-science classrooms.

“I can’t do any labs because I don’t have my glassware and my chemicals are in storage,” Gracias said.

Fortunately, the company working on the repairs, Belfor Property Restoration, has been working consistently on the 300 building and plans to get Mr. Gracias and Mr. Mendoza in their respective classrooms sometime between Thanksgiving and Winter Break.

“[In the girls’ restroom], we repaired the pipe and installed the drywall; we’re just waiting on our tile selections to be approved,” Senior Estimator Project Manager Jeffrey Benke said. “In the classroom, we’re actually painting [the new walls] and we’re getting ready to reset the cabinets.”

In truth, most of the damage was in the restroom itself. Only a small portion of the damages were in found in room 301, even less in 302, and most of the cosmetic work Belfor has conducted in rooms 301 and 302 are simply cleaning and painting jobs.

“I am very happy with how immediate the district’s response was,” Batista said. “Thankfully, the school has not been held responsible [for the broken pipes].”

The district assessed the damage on the same Saturday the pipe was discovered to be fractured and quickly calculated the expenses arising from the destruction.

“We will be spending approximately 120 thousand dollars to repair the [damages],” SUHSD Chief Facilities Executive Tom Calhoun said.

It appears to those involved that this ordeal will soon be over and all will return to normal.

“All the bathrooms and classrooms were examined,” Batista said. “[All the other pipes] are fine.”