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June 17, 2014 09:55 PM

Liberty Elementary Floods Again

Once the heavy rain started in Harrisburg on Monday, school officials knew it was only a matter of time before the water took over the elementary school. Now, all they can do is brace for any more rain that could come.

"People like to settle near water, they just don't want water that close," Harrisburg School Superintendent Jim Holbeck said.

What once was a parking lot and playground at Liberty Elementary is now a pond on a day Holbeck says is an unfortunate case of déjà vu. Once the rain on Monday started, it didn't stop for nearly eight hours.

"We got some sandbags going, we bagged around some doors, got some pumps going, but the water was coming up so high and so fast that we couldn't keep up with it," Holbeck said.

The heavy rains have forced water inside the building for the second summer in a row, and the third time in four years.

"It's been very frustrating, and of course a lot of it has been we've just had some plain, large rain storms that have come through in the last few years. Mother Nature deals it out to us and there's not much we can do," Holbeck said.

About one-third of the building now has at least an inch of standing water.

"Water comes through the brick and water comes through the floors. So there are some areas that we couldn't stop just with sandbags. So we've given up on those areas," Holbeck said.

Areas like the school gym. The floor was replaced after last years flooding. This year, Holbeck is expecting the same result.

"Everything I know about gym floors is that if you have a wood floor and water gets into it and underneath it, it pretty much ruins it. So, I'm expecting that they'll have to total that," Holbeck said.

The water is still coming up from under the ground and there's no receding in site. Even more rain in Harrisburg could create bigger problems, which is why Holbeck and nearly 100 volunteers have prepared the school for a second round of rain.

"About all we can do at this point is sandbag some areas in the hallways with the idea that if more water comes in, we're going to try and save the rooms that are dry right now and keep the water from going down the hallways," Holbeck said.

The school district has worked with the city to install a new drainage system that could help with any future flooding concerns, but Holbeck says that system won't be operational for another month.

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