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Flooded school in Northern Alberta won't re-open until September

School officials say a quarter-million litres of water poured into Northern Alberta school

Classes are not expected to resume at Ecole Plamondon School through the rest of the current school year after an April 18 flooding incident. 

That day students and staff found themselves having an abrupt end to the school day when a massive flood – believed to be the result of a burst water main - swept through the building, which also houses the Plamondon Library. The flood caused extensive damage and forced the closure of the school.  

Nicole Garner, the communications and public relations manager for Northern Lights Public Schools (NLPS), said it will be a while before the school reopens.  

“We are anticipating being able to resume classes on Sept. 1 for the 2024-2025 school year,” she told Lakeland This Week.  

While crews clean up, students have been temporarily relocated to alternate locations to continue their schooling. Garner said the shift to the temporary spaces at the Plamondon community hall, curling rink, Francophone school, and Portage College in Lac La Biche took only five days to organize, but will be in place for the duration of the school year calendar. Work to repair the site will continue through the summer months.  

“We are extremely grateful to the community for stepping forward and acting quickly to help us relocate students,” she said. “The students and staff have been adjusting well.” 

The temporary closure of one of its schools was the topic of conversation during the May 1 meeting of the NLPS trustees. During that meeting, Rick Cusson, the superintendent of Northern Lights Public Schools, praised the quick response from staff, administration, community, and other schools to accommodate Ecole Plamondon students while the building is being repaired.  

"We would never have been able to get things in place that quickly if those offers hadn't come in,” Cusson said. “It's a beautiful example of what a community working together can accomplish." 

Quarter million litres of water 

According to Garner, the school division estimates that there were approximately 250,000 litres of water that came into the teacher work room and art room due to a ruptured water main in that classroom. 

With the door to the room shut, she explained, the water in got up to about five feet before the door, which opens into the school’s main hallway, was forced off its hinges. 

“That classroom is at the high end of the school, so once water flowed out into the hallway it travelled throughout the school and into both wings,” she said, adding that all but one classroom was affected. “We are still assessing damage to the school.” 

Fort McMurray-Cold Lake MLA Brian Jean was in Plamondon on May 3 to tour the school and the cleanup process. 

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