China Middle School was closed for maintenance Wednesday after heavy rain from thunderstorms the previous evening flooded a portion of the building.

The flooding occurred after the rain overwhelmed an underground drainage pipe, which had been cracked by roots, according to superintendent Carl Gartley. Typically, the pipe would drain water from the roof of the building, but instead it was nearly blocked with dirt and roots.

“It caused the rain water to flow into one of the hallways,” Gartley said, saying officials decided to close the school for the day to speed up the repair process. There will also be an excavator on site to put in a new drain.

Gartley, who is superintendent of Regional School Unit 18, which includes the towns of China, Oakland, Rome, Belgrade and Sidney, expects the school to reopen on Thursday. The first day of school was Wednesday last week.

People were in the building at the time the water started flowing in, so the school was able to address the problem quickly, he said. The broken pipes were being fixed Wednesday.

Two ceiling tiles also came down along with the drains and were replaced, he said, as well as damaged sheet rock, “to be on the safe side.”

A recent roof replacement at the school may have also contributed to this issue. By fixing the roof, Gartley said, the water is now draining properly, which exposed the root issue in the underground part of the drain.

Gartley also praised the district’s maintenance director and others who work on maintenance issues throughout the district in his email.

“They are available 24/7/365,” Gartley said. “People do not know how lucky we are to have these folks.”

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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