Weslaco ISD assessing flood damage caused by freeze

WESLACO — The school district here is assessing damage to a building that was thoroughly flooded after a copper pipe broke during the February freeze.

Pictures from last week show water spewing out of an overhead pipe at the district’s warehouse main office on Joe Stephens Avenue. Water from the second story leak soaked about 50% of the building, bubbling paint and flowing through exterior walls to pool out on the lawn.

“If you notice, the rafters are completely open,” Oscar Riojas, executive director of athletics and district facilities, told the board Friday, displaying a picture of the busted line. “There is no insulation, there is no, really, means of protecting these pipes. Basically it was extremely cold up there, which led to the water.”

Riojas said the leak was discovered Feb. 16 and the water was shut off. He said the line was repaired three days later and that an insurance adjuster has since visited the site, along with a property inspector, who took samples to test for asbestos — none of which is expected to be found.

According to Riojas, a lounge and office damaged by the leak are heavily used on a daily basis by staff.

“We have made arrangements for the textbook clerk to be working out of another part of the building, and of course the lounge, that one is closed for now until we proceed with the remediation and the repairs,” he said.

Although the freeze damaged some district sprinkler systems, Riojas said the damage at the warehouse complex was the most significant.

“We’re very, very thankful and very blessed that this was the extent of the damage to our school district,” he said.

The board voted Wednesday  to approve the procurement of materials and labor to repair the building. Riojas said the district carries a $100,000 property insurance deductible.

“Of course, we’ll have to evaluate expenses,” Superintendent Priscilla Canales said. “We will keep you informed of any expenses and things in advance, and we will receive insurance reimbursement after all the assessments and paperwork are completed.”