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Assessing Damage At Barkell Elementary Following Roof Collapse

K-12 students in Hancock were sent home early Thursday and are off Friday after a roof failure at Barkell Elementary School.

Officials say that the collapsed portion of the roof was caused by an over accumulation of snow and was discovered in the early morning hours during a routine check of the building.

Not one person was injured in what could have been a tragic occurrence, had it taken place just a few hours later.

“We were contacted this morning by our regular maintenance worker that we have in the building, who was doing his routine walkthrough checking everything. He noticed that there was a problem in one of the rooms,” said Hancock School Superintendent Kipp Beaudoin.

Prior to the start of each school day, a custodian makes the rounds at Barkell Elementary ensuring that everything indicates a safe school day. Thursday morning, that was not the case.

Beaudoin said, “He discovered that there was a failure on the roof. On the back side, there’s a drift area off of the roof and with the rain last night there must have been a failure in the structure and there was a cave in. What we’re trying to do right now is ascertain building usage, what type of damage is done and then what do we need to do in order to make the building usable, if it is, and if it’s not, we need to come up with a plan to house the students and continue education.”

Elementary students were on their way to class when the cave in was discovered and redirected to the high school to await parental pick up.

Beaudoin said, “We already had buses on the road, so we did not want to cancel and send students home, maybe to a vacant household. We brought them in, made announcements to the community, notified them to pick up students at the high school, and then by doing that, we would be able to at least assist parents as much as we could in that transition piece.”

Students were released around 10:00 am Thursday, and have been given Friday off as well, allowing the district and engineers to assess the situation and develop a repair plan.

“We just need that type of information, but we want to make sure that the building is perfectly safe through all that happens,” said Beaudoin.

As the building remained vacant, aside from administrative personnel, cleanup crews cleared the remaining snow and cleared a service drive through nearly 24 inches of snow, allowing access for the repair crews.

Beaudoin said, “I just want to extend to public works–as soon as they became aware, the fire department and police department contacted us, senate representative to help assist and if there’s anything that they could do for us they certainly have offered–so we’re very, very appreciative. We’re very, very thankful that it occurred when nobody was here, and again we are very appreciative of the kindness of the community.”

Classes at Hancock Schools are expected to resume on Monday.

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