After water damage, St. Mary’s will finish school year in rented space

  • Written by Kevin Birnbaum
  • Published in Local
Extensive water damage was discovered Jan. 21 at St. Mary School in Aberdeen. Classes are tentatively scheduled to resume Feb. 3 at a nearby church. Photo: Courtesy Father Paul Brunet Extensive water damage was discovered Jan. 21 at St. Mary School in Aberdeen. Classes are tentatively scheduled to resume Feb. 3 at a nearby church. Photo: Courtesy Father Paul Brunet

ABERDEEN – After more than a week of canceled classes due to extensive water damage at St. Mary School, classes are tentatively scheduled to resume Feb. 3 in rented space, said pastor Father Paul Brunet.

Heavy rains and clogged drains on the roof led to falling ceilings and water-logged walls in a classroom, offices, and restrooms at the Aberdeen school. The damage was discovered early Jan. 21.

It will likely be six months before the 90-year-old building is usable again, Father Brunet said. “It’s not just a mop up, dry out process,” he said — the walls and ceilings have to be torn out and rebuilt.

As of Jan. 29, the school of 145 students was finalizing an agreement to finish out the school year at Aberdeen’s Harbor City Church, which occupies a former elementary school building just a mile from St. Mary’s. Catholic schools from around the Archdiocese of Seattle have been sending donations and necessary school supplies, Father Brunet said.

The roof drains got filled with leaves, pine needles and pinecones, Father Brunet said. “Over a period of weeks, with the rain we’ve been having, the water built up, and it was 2 and 3 feet deep, like a swimming pool up on the roof.”

Then, on the night of Jan. 20, Aberdeen got an inch of rain. “The water finally got up to the level of a vent up on the roof, so it entered the school through that vent,” the pastor said.

The water damaged a fifth- and sixth-grade classroom on the top floor, leaked down into the main entryway as well as the principal’s and secretary’s offices, then seeped down into the restrooms on the school’s bottom level, he said.

Just last January, the school was forced to cancel classes for a week when runoff from a record-breaking storm flooded the school library, but “that was a quick fix” compared to this, Father Brunet said.

Still, the school’s staff has remained positive, he said.

The morning the water damage was discovered, Father Brunet said he overheard a teacher proclaim: “This is a satanic attack, and we’re not going to stand for this. We’re going to work this out, we’re going to stick together, we’re going to love each other, we’re going to get ourselves organized, we’re going to pray together, and we’re not going to take this,” the teacher said. “We’re going to overcome.”