Stamford Advocate

Insurance and FEMA should pay for $2 million in damage from Ida

- By Ignacio Laguarda

STAMFORD — It’s been more than three weeks since the remnants of Hurricane Ida made its way through Stamford, but schools in the city are still picking up the pieces.

All of the 21 public schools suffered some form of damage from the storm to the tune of roughly $2 million, according to a memo from Kevin McCarthy, director of facility operations.

The district expects that all of the costs will be covered either by insurance or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to school officials.

Most damage, McCarthy wrote, was minor, resulting in roof and window leaks and flooded floor drains and catch basins.

The hardest hit was Strawberry Hill School, the newest building in the district. The school’s first floor suffered extensive damage to kindergart­en classrooms, the main office, hallways, the teachers lounge and the gym.

“We were a little disappoint­ed because, of course, it’s one of our newest schools,” said Superinten­dent Tamu Lucero, during a meeting of the Board of Education’s Operations Committee Tuesday night.

In all, the cost estimate for flood-related repairs at

the school is just under $700,000. The most extensive damage was to the walls on the first floor, a repair that is estimated to cost $500,000.

Property damage consultant JS Held suggested removing sheetrock in various locations on the first floor and removing certain cabinets, vinyl molding and carpets in two rooms.

At Strawberry Hill, Lucero said officials attempted to dry out the flooded areas over three days, but moisture remained. Therefore, it was decided that parts of the first floor would have to be torn up.

“We’re going to address those issues,” Lucero said.

One of the concerns going forward is that water infiltrati­on into district schools can lead to mold, something Lucero said officials are watching closely.

“We are doing what we know we need to do to make sure that there is no mold growth for any of this,” she said.

Strawberry Hill Principal Frank Rodriguez recently updated parents on the effects of the storm in a letter.

He wrote, “The objective is to remove all water damaged building materials mitigating the potential for mold growth down the road while minimizing disruption­s to the school day.”

Lucero thanked Mayor David Martin and Finance Board Chairman Richard Freedman for authorizin­g $1 million in emergency spending for the school district to use right away to work on some of the repairs after Ida hit the region.

She also thanked custodians for getting schools ready to open the day after the storm hit. School openings across the district were delayed by two hours on Sept. 2, the day after the storm.

“I do have to really appreciate our facilities managers, our director of facilities, also our custodians and our trades, who were up through the night attempting to help us open the schools,” she said.

Since Ida’s visit to Stamford, the city has been assessing damage to all of the schools, through the city’s insurance agent McLarens and JS Held.

McCarthy wrote that JS Held is also conducting “moisture mitigation surveys” to find materials that were impacted by stormwater.

“The Facilities Department is utilizing the damage assessment­s and moisture mitigation surveys to develop building specific ... work to remediate waterimpac­ted materials as quickly as possible,” McCarthy wrote, on Sept. 17. “Every attempt is being conducted to remediate water-impacted materials prior to developing a mold growth situation.”

Only five schools — the Academy of Informatio­n Technology & Engineerin­g, Rogers Internatio­nal School, Davenport Ridge Elementary School, Newfield Elementary School and Springdale Elementary School — were not listed on the damage submission report to FEMA.

During the Operations meeting Tuesday, board member Nicola Tarzia asked if insurance and FEMA would cover the $2 million worth of expenses due to Ida.

“It looks that way,” Lucero said.

 ?? Stamford Public Schools / Contribute­d photo ?? Parts of Strawberry Hill School were flooded with water due to heavy rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.
Stamford Public Schools / Contribute­d photo Parts of Strawberry Hill School were flooded with water due to heavy rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

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