DANVILLE — The Danville Middle School was ravaged by the flood in 2011, forcing sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students in this school district in Montour County to find a new home.
Now, almost two years later, the flood cleanup project is close to being complete.
Danville’s Middle School principal says he can’t help but get excited for next year, even though there’s still about seven days left to go on this school calendar.
The Danville Middle School that was devastated by the September 2011 flood will open its doors for students this fall.
Walking down the hallways inside Danville Middle School, it’s hard to envision just how far the cleanup has come.
“Night and day difference, the first day we were in here, it smelled horrible, it was slippery, there was water and debris everywhere,” Principal Charles Smargiassi said.
Smargiassi is now proud to show off the building along Route 11 in Montour County that was drowning in several feet of water from the 2011 flood.
Now nearly two years later, the school’s been put back together purposely rebuilt with holes. Water will be able to come right through vents.
“When the water comes up, these flood vents and floats them, they’ll open and just let the water flow through the building,” said Rick Engle, director of maintenance.
The doors are all cut to leave a three inch gap by the floor and all electrical units are off the floor, and in the ceilings, all requirements from FEMA since this school still sits in a flood plain.
“So when we have a flood here again, it’s not going to ruin as much. Really the only thing it’s going to ruin is some stuff that’s in here,” Engle said.
An important part of this $12 million flood cleanup project is in the mechanical room. All of the machinery is raised eight feet off of the ground, keeping it out of harm’s way for any potential future floods.”
School officials say although it’s been a tough couple of years, there’s a lot to be thankful for now.
“We’re going to have basically a brand new building. It’s going to have brand new technology, air conditioning throughout. It’s going to be fresh paint everywhere, brand new auditorium,” Smargiassi said.
“Definitely be a showpiece,” added Engle.
Work began in December of 2012 and will continue all summer, making sure the Danville Middle School is ready to go for students come late August.
School officials also say they’ve moved the main office from the center of the building to the front as a safety precaution after the tragedy in Sandy Hook.