"We Lost Our Lunchroom, We Lost Our Kitchen, We Lost Our Gym": NE Dubois Intermediate School Still Working Through Major Flood Damage

By Kris Norton

Dubois - In yesterday's Dubois County School Forum, Principal Ryan Case took WITZ News Director Kris Norton on a tour around the Northeast Dubois Intermediate School weeks after the school saw between eight and ten feet of standing water inside of the building.

It's a tale of two stories. Literally. Depending on which level you're standing, you can see the aftermath of standing water - or see nothing out of the ordinary.

"The lower portion of our building kind of took a direct hit," Principal Case said. "The gym area, the gym basements - no water on the gym floor but about eight or ten feet under the gym floor - cafeteria, kitchen, music room, lower hallway, bathrooms."

Though no water made its way onto the gym floor in the August 26th flooding, the surrounding damage and uncertainty quickly triggered an announcement from Superintendent Bill Hochgesang cancelling activities in the gym for the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year.

Walking through the lower portion of the school building, hearing generators and ServPro crews hard at work, one can still see high-water marks on the light-colored walls and hinges still attached to pieces of doors that were ripped away.

 The aftermath of failed doors in the August 26th flooding
The aftermath of failed doors in the August 26th flooding

"The upper portion of our building [was] virtually untouched, so we really have a dynamic here where two portions of our building - one is very major damage, the other one able to have education," Case said. "Luckily the top part is our education part; probably 90% our our education takes place in this upper area where there was no damage."

The cafeteria and kitchen were much more heavily effected.

"We lost our lunchroom, we lost our kitchen, we lost our gym," Case said. "Those areas, we need to be creative in."

With the loss of the kitchen, administrators have converted an older locker area - nicknamed the Jeep room - into a makeshift kitchen, says Case:

"That's turned into our new kitchen area. Food is being made at either the Junior/Senior High or the Elementary and we're bringing it into this area. Kids go there and get their lunch and then we're either going outside to eat or we're going back to the classroom. [We're] still providing a school lunch, still providing a school breakfast, getting everything the kids need, all the essentials are there. It just stinks not having our cafeteria to go to."

The cafeteria workers from the Intermediate School have moved onto either the Junior/Senior High School or the Elementary School to help prepare those meals. 

The school's art room and music room had taken minor damage, those rooms have temporarily been moved into other classrooms.

In the wake of the flood damage, Case has seen an outpouring of gifts from the community.

"We've had of community gifts to us, right now, we're kind of putting that to our food service," Case said. "That's where it's hard to get them hot warm food, turkey sandwiches or ham sandwiches are going to get old."

It is uncertain how long repairs and restoration will take at this time.