Flooded school mops up

Back at work. . . Cleaning up the office at St Peters College after surface flooding entered the building last week are (from left) principal Tara Quinney, business manager Paula Robertson and office manager Julie Henry. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

There is a silver lining to the the flooding of St Peter’s College, principal Tara Quinney says.
Last Thursday heavy rain caused surface flooding throughout the Gore District, including at the school.
By 10am water had entered the bathrooms next to the school’s hall.
Pupils were sent home. Water continued to enter the school, and by 1pm covered the ground floor of most of the buildings.
When water started entering the building it was like a ‘‘nightmare’’, Mrs Quinney said.
‘‘It happened so fast and it was so scary and watching the water seep in through the walls was quite eerie.
‘‘We tried so desperately to sandbag and stop the water coming in, but once it started coming through the walls, once it reached a certain height there was just nothing we could do.
‘‘There was a real sense of helplessness.’’
On Thursday many volunteers helped shift items out of the way of the flood water.
‘‘We saved most things.
‘‘On Friday . . .we had 25-plus tradies from all different companies just went to town ripping up all the carpet.’’
On Monday Mrs Quinney spent five hours walking around the school with insurance assessors.
She was now feeling a lot more optimistic.
‘‘There’s a sense of the silver lining.
‘‘Yes some things are beyond repair, but we’ll get new carpet, we’ll get new fittings, we’ll get replacement furniture and it will end up improving the school.’’
The school was insured under a Catholic Diocese of Dunedin policy that covered all property belonging to the church.
‘‘It would be quite a different scenario if you were walking around the site with no insurance.’’
Cleaning contractors were in the process of cleaning and sanitising the buildings.
‘‘I’m dividing my time between cleaning up certain areas and continuing my own admin work.
‘‘We’ve still got to keep the school running.’’
Staff were now planning next term and deciding what the priorities will be.
One priority was helping senior pupils prepare for examination.
They had two goals.
‘‘The number one goal is to have as many classrooms operable as possible and the second one is to have the hostel operable for when students return,’’ Mrs Quinney said.
West Gore School and the Southern Institute of Technology had offered the use of classrooms.
‘‘We’re going to do everything we can to stay on-site so we are not doing distance learning if we can.’’
Her first day at the school coincided with the 2020 flooding.
Since then there had been the Covid-19 pandemic and teacher strikes.
‘‘To be fair, I feel like crisis management is my thing now.’’