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Corvallis School District hurries to replace flooded cafeteria before the start of school

Three floods have left the school district's kitchen and cafeteria unsafe and unusable.
Posted at 5:10 PM, Aug 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-18 19:12:19-04

CORVALLIS - Back to school for Corvallis students is going to look a bit different this year.

Three floods last winter due to frozen pipes left the school district's kitchen and cafeteria unsafe and unusable.

As a solution, they’ve set up a portable, replacement facility until the old building can be repaired.

When the pipes burst for the third time in December, the school mitigated water damage as much as they could for the rest of the school year, according to Corvallis superintendent Pete Joseph.

Once school was over in the spring, they were able to fully investigate the damage.

In March, they partnered with Jay Webb and his company, Webb Consulting, to asses the property loss.

“This summer we’ve been scrambling just to wrap our heads around the magnitude of what we were dealing with,” Joseph says.

This complex of trailers will be the replacement space for Corvallis's cafeteria, kitchen and art and orchestra classrooms.

During the week of Aug. 14, the school was able to secure a group of trailers as a temporary replacement for the flooded building.

More than the cafeteria and kitchen, the old facility held art and orchestra classrooms, which also needed to be replaced.

“So we’ve had to relocate those particular classrooms, we’ve had to accommodate for the loss of use of those spaces, again, hence why that secondary complex was needed,” Joseph says.

Joseph estimates the repairs of the old building will take 12 to 18 months, but there is no sure way to know the exact timeline until all of the flood damage is assessed.

“You never know what you’re getting into with these sorts of facilities,” Webb says. “This building was built in the mid-50s, so we don’t know what we’re going to find behind these walls.”

They are currently in the process of stripping the building down to the bones. Once everything is cleared out, Webb says they will start a flood cut to expose at least four feet of the wall.

The cafeteria building for Corvallis had three floods last winter. Lead consultant for the project, Jay Webb, says they are still uncovering the full scope of damage.

It’s been a meticulous job, according to Webb, particularly with solidifying all of the insurance claims.

“Anytime you’re dealing with a water loss, a storm, hurricanes, tornados– you name it, the most important thing is to just keep your documentation in order,” he says. “Insurance is here for a reason, it’s here to cover your losses when you suffer a financial loss, so the main thing is just keeping it all documented.”

While it was a scramble to get prepared for back to school, Webb told Joseph that they still need to take their time.

He says it’s important to make sure they don’t skip essential steps when assessing damage and working with insurance.

“This is a very fluid situation that we have here at the Corvallis School District,” Webb says. “We don’t know a lot as to what we’re getting in to until we start getting into the discoverable items. Once we start on the mitigation, the abatement, we’re going to know a lot more, so things can change. We’re trying to keep it under a tight scope of work.”

Still, the fix is on a deadline, and the temporary facilities needed to get placed before Sept. 5, when students come back to school.

“That’s been a little bit of a rush,” Webb says. “But everybody has been working really well together so far this summer, and we really look forward to a positive end result that puts minimum impact on people.”

Jay Webb (left) and Pete Joseph (right) explain finding solutions to their flood damage at Corvallis School District has required a group effort. They are thankful for community support.

The kitchen at Corvallis feeds all of the district's students — about 1,200 kids, according to Joseph. While the lunch schedule may look different and the location will move, he says the kids shouldn’t experience too much of a change.

“Expect us to take care of them, their safety, and make sure that they’re taken care of with food, with the same customer service that they’re used to,” Joseph says. “I don’t think that’s going to change at all. As a matter of fact, I know it won’t. I think the biggest thing is just going to be a change in routine.”

The new outdoor space for lunch and art will be completely fenced off to the public and monitored to ensure the safety of students, according to Webb.

Joseph says they will continue to update families as construction continues but asks for understanding from the community.

“I want our community to know that this is going to be a process, and we’re going to need support, and we don’t have a set timeline on when we’re going to be finished,” he says. “So just asking for a little patience, a little grace, until we get the full scope of work.”

The entire project is paid through insurance, so the cost will not fall on the school or community.