Whitehall High School left high and dry with $10 million or more in flood damages


WHITEHALL, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Thursday marks one month since Whitehall High School was a victim of a storm that left major flood damage throughout the village and town. Since then, the inches-to-feet of black water flooding the school has been drained, but the cost of that process and a lack of help from insurers has left the district paralyzed to start further repairs.

The insurer, New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal, said in an email Tuesday that they had been working steadily with the district to help, but Superintendent Patrick Dee said he has had to resort to calling for action from state officials like Senator Betty Little and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik in order to get any response at all.

The district received a total of $500,000 last month, which went entirely towards draining the building of water, backed up to several feet in some areas. The insurer sent representatives to a meeting on Sept. 8 where Whitehall was told they would be told within 48 hours how much help they would be getting from there. That information never came.

Meanwhile, the water may be gone, but the building’s condition is left to decline. Mold has been found beneath floorboards in the wrecked gymnasium, and old asbestos tiles have been found beneath torn flooring in classrooms. Carpet had to be removed throughout the auditorium, where water was flooded up to the sixth row of seats.

Estimates put the full cost of repairs for the building at anywhere from $10 to $16 million.

The flood came months into the first half of a two-year, $16 million renovation plan at the high school. Classrooms and offices getting new walls and windows will now have to get cut into, to check for further mold.

Whitehall Elementary School also sustained damage in the flood, but has been able to welcome students back.

Whitehall High School students are learning remotely for the time being, with only a few school administrators working at the building. They have set up temporary offices in a newer wing, where the air quality was deemed better than elsewhere.


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