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WEATHER ALERT: Hurricane Beryl’s to bring heavy rainfall and potential flooding to Illinois

Superintendent: Paris HS must replace gym floor after pipe burst and flood

Picture shows water flooding the Paris High School gym after a pipe break in December 2022.

PARIS – The superintendent of an Eastern Illinois school district says the gymnasium floor of the high school must be rebuilt after a pipe break and flood.

It was the Christmas Day surprise that Paris Union School District No. 95 superintendent Jeremy Larson was not expecting.

“When you walk into the school and into that main lobby, the entire ceiling is just decimated,” said Larson.

After days of below freezing temperatures, a fire suppression line broke at Paris High School, showering hallways, the library and classrooms with pressurized water for a half hour. The worst damage was in the gymnasium where water flooded the all-wood floor.

“It covered your entire shoe and you could kick water,” said Larson. “It wasn’t just a spill on the floor. It was substantial water damage that occurred.”

Larson, mitigation experts from Champaign and a flooring company have been onsite since Christmas Day, determining what can be saved.

On Thursday afternoon, Larson informed the public the floor will have to be replaced over a series of months. An email sent to the media says in part:

After a thorough inspection, it was determined that a two foot wide cut section needed to be taken out around the main gym floor to check for water damage. Upon further inspection, water was found under the vapor barrier located beneath the gym floor. Despite various drying techniques and mitigation efforts, it has been determined that the gym floor will need to be replaced.

This project will take some time and may not be completed until sometime within the summer. Classes will resume on January 4 for students as normal, but athletic events will be rescheduled to different locations while the floor is being repaired. The school administration is working hard to locate alternative sites for events such as PE courses, athletic programs, May Fete, and graduation in advance so that they are not affected.

For now, athletics are being moved to other facilities.

Larson says the rest of Paris High School will be open when 580 students return to class on Wednesday, January 4, 2023.

Picture of Reginald Hardwick

Reginald Hardwick

Reginald Hardwick is the News & Public Affairs Director at Illinois Public Media. He oversees daily newscasts and online stories. He also manages The 21st Show, a live, weekday talk show that airs on 7 NPR stations throughout Illinois. He is the executive producer of IPM's annual environmental TV special "State of Change." And he is the co-creator of Illinois Soul, IPM's Black-focused audio service that launched in February 2024. Before arriving at IPM in 2019, he served as News Director at WKAR in East Lansing and spent 17 years as a TV news producer and manager at KXAS, the NBC-owned station in Dallas/Fort Worth. Reginald is the recipient of three Edward R. Murrow regional awards, seven regional Emmy awards, and multiple honors from the National Association of Black Journalists. Born in Vietnam, Reginald grew up in Colorado and is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado. Email: rh14@illinois.edu Twitter: @RNewsWILL

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