New Trier students will not get any indoor running in at the Winnetka campus for another month, but the school staff certainly got their exercise over the past few weeks.
New Trier Township High School District 203 had only a month to recover from extensive damage from the July 22-23 storm before the new school year began last week.
The Winnetka campus was hit especially hard, but “the only thing students will notice different is a cement floor in the Gates Gymnasium instead of the indoor track,” said Steve Linke, District 203’s maintenance manager. “The only thing we are waiting for is the rubberized floor.”
Otherwise, “the school looks just as good as it does every opening day,” Linke said.
The school district estimates it suffered about $675,000 worth of damage from the heavy July rainstorm. The good news is “we have excellent insurance coverage,” said Associate Superintendent Donald Goers. He expects the district will have to pay about $2,500 of that amount.
At the Winnetka campus, at 385 Winnetka Ave., rainwater filled a stairwell and a ramp on opposite sides of the building that houses the Gates Gymnasium, half of which is below ground. The water, 5-feet deep at that point, broke through two windows and flooded the basement with 8 to 12 inches of water, Linke said.
It covered the indoor track and reached athletic equipment used by the students and staff. A new indoor track will cost about $330,000, but when the cost of removing the old track and preparing the surface for the new installation is added, the work will total about $383,500, Linke said. He hopes to have the new track installed by Oct. 1.
Treadmills, elliptical machines and free weights got wet, too.
“We let them dry out, we cleaned them and checked them,” Linke said. ““We believe all the big equipment got saved.” But high jump mats and crash mats stored there were water-logged and ruined. Water was coming up through the floor drains, Linke said. Replacing soaked carpeting cost between $15,000 and $18,000.
Meanwhile, rain was forming ponds on the roof of the school buildings, Linke said, because the storm sewers were flooded and there was no place for the water and gutters to drain.
“All our roof drains and perimeter drains go to the village storm sewer and those were flooded,” Linke said. “Our pumps had nowhere to go.”
Rain collecting on the roof of the tower building at the Winnetka campus leaked through and caused ceiling tiles to fall in “a multitude of places,” Goers said. About $11,000 of technology equipment was lost due to leaks.
“Altogether there were about 1,200 (tiles) that our guys were still putting in and replacing until just prior to school starting,” Goers said.
The nurse’s office, student offices, student lounge, music and art classrooms all were affected by either falling tiles or flooding.
“We just had water everywhere,” Linke said.
Fortunately, a double shift of district employees were working the night of July 22 to get ready for the new school year.
“We had between 20 and 30 people here, where normally we would have had a very small crew here late at night, New Trier Superintendent Linda Yonke said.
The staff was operating large vacuums and squeegees, “up and down the halls, sucking that water up and dumping it outside, farther away from the building,” Linke said. If the extra workers had not been present, “it would have been thousands and thousands of dollars more in damage,” Linke said. As it was the district called in an outside environmental firm to disinfect, dehumidify and prevent mold growth in the schools.
Members of the art, music, science and kinetic wellness departments all pitched in to complete the cleanup, in addition to the physical plant staff.
“It was a cooperative effort,” Goers said.
The Northfield campus sustained damage due to roof leaks and stormwater backup, too, but it was “minimal,” compared to the Winnetka campus, New Trier officials said.
Then about a week after the July storm, a water main broke under Woodland Avenue.
“The water ran through the electric conduits and got into the basement of the music building” on the Winnetka campus, which had already been “totally cleaned up,” from the July 22-23 storm.
“We started all over again,” Linke said.