Flagstaff Middle School Flooding

Flagstaff Middle School Flooding

Elizabeth Robbins and Maya Rokhlenko

Overnight from Friday, 9/23, to Saturday, 9/24, a water pipe hidden within a closet in Ms. Frazier’s room ruptured. For more than twelve hours, the water gushed through the classroom, into Ms. Miller’s room, and even into Ms. Costa’s and Mr. Moustakas’ rooms. All four of the classrooms were damaged, but Ms. Frazier’s and Ms. Miller’s are in the worst condition. Not only were classrooms harmed, but the back parking lot was also severely damaged. The damage may not be fixed for 6 months! The school is looking at adding more portable classrooms but there is limited space for it. The ideal space would be in the middle school parking lot but the parking lot won’t be done for a while. This event has shown the resilience and flexibility of the teachers and the students. 

We interview some of the people who were affected by the flood:


Mr.Granger – 

Questions & Answers: 

  • Is the cost of repairs going to impact students or other budgets?
    • No, we have insurance just like everyone has insurce at home so we have some expenses but we have an emergency/savings account for these issues. 
  • What was your initial reaction when you found out that the school had flooded?
    • Frustration. After the years of COVID, now this happens. I was looking forward to a more normal year for our school.
  • What was the biggest damage? 
    • So the floors of the classrooms are concrete but they’re built on dirt, the water washed away that dirt underneath the floor. Right now there’s just a concrete slab hanging on top of a big hole. That’s the biggest damage, that’s why the classrooms are unusable, the engineers haven’t figured out how deep the damage is. 
  • How long will it take to repair the biggest damages?
    • We don’t know, it could be up to six months in the worst case scenario. We might have to tear off the floor, and the wall and the door. Since the water brought up the dirt and created mud in the classrooms, mainly Ms. Frazier’s. The pipe was 1500 gallons per minute.


  • Is there going to be a portable to temporarily replace the classrooms that were destroyed?
    • The portable will be near the middle school field. We will have to prepare the ground so it can hold the classroom. 
  • Is there concern about not being able to put out fires?
    • The pipes that hold the water still have water, it’s just not new water. So that’s why we have a person on Fire Watch. The hope is that the pipe will be repaired by 10/7. The hole got filled with rain water so they’ve had to pump it twice. It’s perfectly safe, the fire sprinklers are working. There are buildings that don’t have the fire system and they are fine. 
  • How do you think the flood affected student culture? 
    • I don’t get back with the students as much, I’m very impressed and grateful with how flexible everyone was with the damages. Everyone including the teachers have been jumping around to different classrooms, I think that flexibility and resilience is very amazing. It makes it easier to get my job done. 
  • Was there a possibility of school being online?
    • I knew it would be in person, we can’t do online school. It’s a rule from Colorado Department of Education that Flagstaff Academy can’t but during covid they waived that rule but now the waiver has expired and we can’t do it. 
  • Were any of the lockers damaged?
    • The lockers should be fine, the wall will be there till construction is over. Now we should be able to open the hallway back up. Mrs. Costa’s room and Mr. Moustakas’s room should be open sooner but they have to see what’s under the floor.

These images were taken outside of Ms. Frazier’s room at the edge of the Middle School hallway, they show the hole under the building and they show the pipe that burst.

This image shows the pipe that burst, to put it in perspective look at the guy’s shoe then at the hole. That pipe has 1500 gallons of water per minute going through it, all of that water went out of the pipe for 12+ hours.

Ms. Frazier-

Questions & Answers: 

  • What did your classroom look like when you came in?
    • Better than I had imagined, they had emptied it out and the carpet was ripped out. I had imagined the worst. 
  • How did it feel when you learned that your classroom flooded?
    • Well, at first, probably a bit of shock. But it was a weekend so I was at home with my two year old, so I tried not to think about it. But when I got here, it was like, “Yeah, this is real.”
  • What was your initial reaction?
    • When I first heard, it was like an “Oh no, what will I do for classes?” And when I saw it, it was like “Okay, this is not good.” I was going through where we would be able to meet for classes, I was thinking that through and other stuff once we had a place to be. 
  • How did you find out that your classroom flooded?
    • Mr. Granger sent an email to everybody. 
  • Did any materials from your classroom get destroyed?
    • None of the big materials, like textbooks, no. Some of the papers may have been ruined though, I’ll have to see. 
  • When do you think your classroom will be finished?
    • We’ve been told around six months, so most of the year. 
  • Was it chaotic trying to find where all of your classes would be?
    • It was a little chaotic, just because there were so many teachers who needed a space, but it all came into place pretty quickly. 
  • How did your students react to the change?
    • The eighth grade middle school career has been really weird, COVID, then this. It’s just another thing for you guys, but after all it’s just another thing you can persevere through.
  • How are your students doing with the different classrooms?
    • Pretty well. They’ve gotten into a flow of things. It’s different not being in our normal classroom, but we’re managing. 
  • How does it feel to be a traveling teacher? 
  • Different. I haven’t been a traveling teacher before, so it’s just different. 
  • Do you think that COVID made us more flexible? And if so then how so?
    • Yeah. I think since we had to be so flexible with COVID, we have learned to adapt quickly, so it’s a lot more like, “Yeah, we can do it.”
  • Are you excited to get a portale and be in a classroom?
    •  Yeah, I think it will be nice to be in our own space again. 
  • When are they expected to come?
    •  I don’t know, 
  • Who will be in the portables?
    • I believe two will be in the portables, I believe it will be myself and Ms. Miller. 


These images are from Ms. Frazier’s room, from the closet in her room that holds the pipe, and from the outside of the school by the courtyard.

Ms.Costa –

Questions & Answers:

  •  Did any of your art materials get damaged?
    • At this point, I don’t believe any of the supplies were damaged, however some of the art the students were working on may have been damaged. Some of the pieces were very close to the ground, which may mean they have been damaged. Some students prefer to put their art close to the ground on the drying rack so they don’t have to fight for space and I’m worried the students who were being responsible may have been the ones whose art was damaged. 
  • Was there any mud in your classroom?
    • No that I can tell, when I went through my classroom there was none that I could see and I don’t believe it went across the hall. 
  • When you came in for the first time what did you see?
  • When I came in the drop tarp with the ripper was already up and the restroitive company was already here making changes to fix the damage. I saw a cleaner version of what had happened to the building. 
  • Who was the first person to see the damage?
  • Mr. Back came in on Saturday morning to prepare lessons and noticed the water flowing down the hallway and out the middle school doors. So he was the first person to know that something was off and he called Mr.Granger and he came in within minutes and assessed the damage. 
  • Did anything positive come out of the situation?
    • Flexibility definitely builds resilience. It’s kinda been a blessing in disguise to be in this area with no chairs or desks. It allows the students to be more comfortable while working on their art. 
  •  How did it feel when you learned that your classroom flooded?
    • I was trying to be as positive as possible trying not to think about the potential “what ifs,” but I’ll be honest I was very nervous about the supplies that we could have lost.  For example, Ms. Denise and Ms. Elizabeth just gave me the yearbook cameras because we don’t have yearbook class this year and they’re located in a lower drawer. But my fears were short lived when I got to see the classroom. 
  • What was your initial reaction?
    • My very first thoughts were about the students’ art and all of the effort and time they had put into their work, and whether or not they would have that available when they went back to the classroom. I knew this could cause structural issues, a sinkhole had opened in Charlotte’s and her brother’s old school, and it caused them to be out for two weeks. I was glad the damage here was not as significant. 
  • How did you find out that your classroom flooded?
    • I found out from Ms. Salgado, she called me to let me know that my classroom was one of the more affected classrooms. 
  • How did your students deal with the change?
    •   I was surprised at how flexible the students were in coming into a new space, without desks or chairs, with limited supplies, and an insufficiency of information. They were very flexible. 
  • Do you think that there will be any long lasting effects(not counting the rebuilding and fixing) from the flooding?
    • I wonder what the effects might be considering we just came off COVID and the students already are feeling displaced and not secure in social norms and routines. I think that this will add to those difficulties, but I don’t truly know how this will truly affect students. 
  • Do you think COVID gave us more patience while trying to figure out how to deal with the change
    • I think that covid did help us become more flexible in more ways but it made us vagile but it made us less tolerant with others having a lack of empathy with others in certain situations and I wonder how that will affect students in the days to come. I think it’s interesting we’ve become more flexible but in some ways it’s become the opposite.