Cleanup underway after flood forces weeklong closure of Toll Gate High School

West Bay

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Toll Gate High School students and staff will be off all this week as crews work to clean up the damage left behind by a weekend flood.

Warwick Superintendent Philip Thornton was at the school on Monday and said more than 30,000 feet of flooring will need to be replaced along with carpeting, sheetrock and some electronics.

According to Thornton, a water main broke Saturday morning and filled a room below the cafeteria with water, which then overflowed into the first floor.

“This piece actually came out and dislodged from the water main, caused a leak filling up the eight-foot chamber and around two inches of water on the entire first floor,” he said, referring to a small cap that was installed in the 1990s.

“The age of the back floor preventer that was in the vault just rotted away and let go. It’s pretty severe at this point,” added Kevin Oliver, the school district’s facilities and operations manager.

As a result, the district was forced to cancel classes and other activities at the school for the entire week of Feb. 10–14.

Thornton said the floodwaters were first noticed by someone working on a project at the school and he wasn’t sure what would’ve happened had that person not been there on a weekend.

The water main has since been repaired, according to Thornton, but he said there’s still a long road to recovery ahead and it’s unclear at this time how much it’ll all cost.

“This is a setback for us,” he said. “Once it’s dry, we have to look at the damage in terms of equipment and in terms of the building itself. We are going to put a team in place – three shifts if need be – to get the job done.”

Thornton also said the school has applied for a waiver for five days so they don’t have to make them up at the end of the school year.

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