MILTON — Recent storms caused significant damage at East Milton Elementary School.

According to Joey Harrell,  Santa Rosa County School District's assistant superintendent for administrative services, two events occurred June 29: storm water flooded approximately eight classrooms, and lightning struck a galvanized pipe under the school’s foundation, causing it to burst and flood an additional 12 rooms.

The school’s custodial staff, county maintenance staff and the disaster recovery team used by the school district arrived the next day to assess damage.

“ABM (the custodial company) was tremendous. They started the process of extracting, and it was just overwhelming; there was just too much for them to take care of — certainly a disaster,” Harrell said. “We had a disaster recovery team (Southern Catastrophe) come in, and they have been in since Friday (June 30) morning. They worked all weekend and are continuing to work.”

Harrell said the school district’s insurance provider, Florida School Boards Insurance Trust, has been notified, and the school district will make an insurance claim.

“We have a budget line,” Harrell said. “I’ve asked for $500,000, and we’ve got that money … I don’t feel like [repairs] will be that much, but I just wanted to make sure we had that covered and we can move forward.”

Cabinets in the classrooms did not get wet because they are raised on wooden bases; however, the bases will need to be replaced.

“We were actually able to take those cabinets apart, dismantle them and remove the base that was wet,” Harrell said. “So that will all get a thorough cleaning … we will reinstitute the bases — we will try to put in a different system that won’t be completely wood, that they can stand on. Then we will be able to put those cabinets back in because we’ve made sure and confirmed they were not affected by the water.”

Southern Catastrophe completed the drying and removal of the cabinets, carpets and flooring July 6. The next step is to replace the flooring and create cabinet bases made of metal; the administrative services department is currently designing the bases, according to Harrell.

“We are performing indoor air quality tests,” Harrell said. “We will do it independently … the restoration company will also perform some, so we should have dual data there. Once we are completely dry [and] cleaned out, we will come back and perform another one probably a week or two later just to make sure everything is falling in line so we don’t have any issues arise concerning mold, mildew, any of that.”

Harrell said the school has likely received some minor flooding in the past, but nothing to this level. To avoid a similar disaster, Harrell said the county will ensure storm drains are clear of debris and work properly.