Tuesday, November 27, 2001

It was trench warfare yesterday as crews worked on a water
main break that closed Ahuimanu Elementary School.

Despite water woes,
Ahuimanu to
reopen today

A broken main closed the
Windward grade school yesterday

By Nelson Daranciang

Ahuimanu Elementary School was scheduled to reopen today as plumbers continued to search for a broken water line that shut down the school yesterday.

The break caused a drop in water pressure that posed a sanitation problem, said Deborah Oyama, assistant schools superintendent.

"There is not enough water pressure to flush toilets or wash hands," she said.

Principal Anne Marie Ducha decided to reopen the school today after plumbers were able to restore water pressure in the main classroom building and the library. The cafeteria also has adequate water pressure, Ducha said. Meals, however, are cooked at King Intermediate School in Kaneohe and transported to Ahuimanu, near Kahaluu.

The plumbers have been checking every toilet twice and installed bypass valves to try to isolate the break. Installing the valves required digging holes on the school grounds, some seven to 10 feet deep.

"It looks like a family of gophers had moved in," Ducha said.

She discovered the problem when she went to do some work at the school Sunday afternoon. She then contacted staff members who started a phone tree to tell as many parents as possible that school was closed yesterday.

The school secretary and head janitor were outside the school yesterday morning for parents who did not get the word. Fewer than 10 children showed up, Ducha said.

State Department of Education officials also made arrangements with the Nuuanu YMCA to take in students whose parents were not able to arrange alternate care. Only one student went there yesterday, Oyama said.

About 515 students attend Ahuimanu in kindergarten to sixth grade.

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