Several pipes froze and burst in the ceilings of the Norwalk High School and Ernsthausen Performing Arts Center main lobbies Wednesday morning, causing considerable damage, superintendent Dennis Doughty said Thursday.
Ceiling tiles ruptured and were stained from leakage, and officials found carpets sopping wet from the excessive water that poured in, Doughty said.
Despite the damage, district students returned to classes Thursday for the first time since Dec. 20, after freezing temperatures and three straight calamity days extended their two-week winter break.
The damaged pipes controlled the school’s sprinkler system, which set off an alarm because of the change in water pressure when they burst.
The Norwalk Fire Department promptly informed district officials of the damage, shut off the sprinkler system and drained the necessary sprinkler zones, Doughty said.
Soon after, Dustin Brown, Norwalk Schools director of support services, and Kelly Ross, director of food services, rounded up district maintenance and custodial workers. They repaired the pipes, extracted water from the carpet and used fans to dry the area. The process took about eight to 10 hours.
“It was an example of a great, focused effort on the part of district personnel,” Doughty said. “We were able to take action almost immediately, which minimized damage. (The fire department’s) quick action was also instrumental in avoiding additional damage”
Norwalk Schools estimates the repairs will cost less than $5,000, although an exact amount hasn’t been determined, Doughty said.
The sprinkler company will soon visit the building to certify the repairs, he said.
The district constructed the high school building in 2001. The facility, located on Shady Lane Drive, is one of the newest schools in the area.