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Storm damage shuts Safford schools for two weeks

About 3000 students affected
Posted at 6:56 PM, Oct 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-12 21:56:39-04
SAFFORD, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - A powerful storm hit Safford so hard Saturday schools there are shut down for two weeks of repairs.
 
The storm dropped several inches of hail.  Water flooded the schools and brought on damage so severe the district had to shut down to let repair crews work.
 
The Safford High slogan is tearing it up but they never had this in mind.  Workers are using machines to tear out a school's worth of soaked, ruined carpet, while other workers scrape off the glue left behind. 
 
The Trust that insures school districts in Arizona recommended closing all six Safford schools for two weeks of emergency repairs.
 
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked the Safford School District's Director of Instruction Henry Dunkerson: "The two weeks just gets you functional, it doesn't get you restored? 
 
Dunkerson: “Absolutely.  It just gets us functional."
 
Dunkerson says full restoration will require more work over breaks like Christmas and Spring Break.
 
Lafe Nelson Elementary got the worst damage.  Dunkerson says it will not be able to open in two weeks so its 500 students will shift to other schools temporarily.
 
There, equipment is ready to help workers attack a big, big job. 
 
They have thick coats of mud to flush away.  A nasty smell is the tip off the school needs to be not just cleaned but disinfected.
 
Henry Dunkerson says, "The water level that came across, of course came across fields, so anything that had pesticides or anything that had feces of any type, animal type of feces or course that water contains all of that."
 
Making the schools truly clean will even include sawing out and replacing wallboard soaked by the flood water.
 
Henry Dunkerson says the schools will pass bacteria tests and even tests of air quality before they're declared ready to open again.