Teachers save
school from flood

Working on Sunday, they minimize
damage at the Kona campus

Ten teachers and staff were at Konawaena Middle School on the Big Island, preparing their classrooms for the new school year on their Sunday off, when a "freak" flood poured through the campus.

They jumped into action, shutting off the power and quickly scooping up boxes of books and supplies from the floor as the water rose up and seeped into 14 classrooms, according to Principal Nancy Soderberg. Students report to the school in Kealakekua on Thursday.

"It was just a freak flood," Soderberg said yesterday. "A massive amount of water came down the mountain. It's a three-tiered campus, with stairs between the tiers, and the water just flowed down those stairs like a waterfall."

Soderberg had been on campus Sunday morning but was away when the floodwaters rose about 8 inches and intruded at about 2 p.m., she said. She returned later that afternoon, helping her staff sweep out water from classrooms that was pooled up to 2 inches deep.

Police and fire crews also reported to campus. It had been raining for several days, so the ground was saturated when the flood occurred, but by nightfall the ground was dry again, Soderberg said. Yesterday, a custodial crew came in from Hilo to help clean up and get the school back in shape.

If her staff members had not come to campus on their day off, the flood could have turned into a disaster, Soderberg said, but their quick action saved books and electronic equipment.

"They are wonderful," she said. "We had lots of people pitch in. We were very fortunate that there wasn't any major damage."

Konawaena Middle School


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